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US house prices are rising at the lowest rate in 7 years



WASHINGTON (AP) – US home prices rose in July from a year earlier by the least amount in seven years, as modest sales force sellers to keep costs in check.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city house price index rose 2% in July from a year ago, down from a 2.2% annual gain in June. Several former hot housing markets, such as Seattle and San Francisco, have been noticeably cooled this year.

Home sales have picked up in recent months, but are still modest. Low mortgage rates have recently encouraged more Americans to step up and buy homes, but sales of existing homes have risen below 3% over the past year.

Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Charlotte reported the largest price gains in the last 1

2 months, increasing 5.8%, 4.7% and 4.6%, respectively.

Steady employment and solid wage growth, together with low mortgage rates, have made it easier for more people to consider home purchases. Consumer confidence is also at historically high levels.

Home prices fell 0.6% in Seattle in July compared to the previous year, up from a 1.3% drop last month. In San Francisco, they barely rose, rising just 0.2%.

Smaller price gains can help increase sales further in the coming months. Home building is now also growing at a healthy clip. The housing sector has fallen and slowed economic growth over the past six quarters, but some economists now expect it to boost the economy in the last months of the year.

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