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Home-price increases accelerate

U.S. home prices jumped in January, a sign the housing market is gaining momentum as it nears the spring selling season.

Home prices rose 9.7 percent in January from a year ago, according to data released Tuesday by CoreLogic. That’s up from an 8.3 percent increase in December and the biggest annual gain since April 2006.

In New Mexico, home prices increased 4.6 percent, less than half the average year-over-year increase nationwide. New Mexico had the 30th highest rate of price increase in the country in January.

Prices rose in all states except Delaware and Illinois. And prices increased in 92 of the 100 largest metro areas, up from 87 in December.

Home prices nationwide also rose 0.7 percent in January from December. In New Mexico, prices rose 0.9 percent month over month. Those are solid increases given that sales usually slow over the winter months.

Even if distressed property sales are removed from the equation, home prices still rose 4.6 percent in January in New Mexico. In fact, distressed property sales — mostly short sales and bank-owned or REO sales — drove up average home prices in 21 states.

“Distressed properties are the hotter part of the market in those locations,” a company spokesman said. “So the change in the prices being paid for REO and short sales is higher than for traditional properties.”

Rising demand combined with fewer available homes is pushing up prices. Sales of previously owned homes ticked up in January after rising to their highest level in five years in 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors. At the same time, inventories of homes for sale fell to a 13-year low.

Journal staff contributed to this report.

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