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Home prices on the rise

POSTED: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - 5:32pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 12:05pm

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sales of new homes jumped 9.6 percent in July, providing yet another sign the housing market is climbing back from the lows seen early this year. Helped by falling prices, the fourth-straight monthly increase was stronger than expected.

The Commerce Department says sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000. June's sales were revised higher. Sales have now risen more than 30 percent from the bottom in January, but are still off nearly 70 percent from the frenzied peak four years ago.

The median sales price was down slightly from June and off 11.5 percent from year-ago levels. Prices, however, have risen from March's low.

Homebuyers are rushing to take advantage of a federal tax credit that covers 10 percent of the home price, or up to $8,000, for first-time owners. Home sales must be completed by the end of November for buyers to qualify.

Builders and real estate agents are pressing Congress for that credit to be extended. If it isn't, there are fears that sales could reverse the upward trend.

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