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Southern California house prices rise modestly in September

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Southern California house prices continued rising in September, although gains remain the smallest since the housing recovery began in the spring of 2012, new data shows.

Inland Empire house price appreciation hit a seven-year low in September, while appreciation rates in Los Angeles and Orange counties hovered near seven-year lows, according to the CoreLogic Home Price Index.

The latest housing report from the Irvine-based firm shows that while price gains are mired in the low single-digits, they continue to go up from year-ago levels, thanks in part to low mortgage interest rates.

The price of an existing single-family home rose 3.2% in the Inland Empire, the smallest appreciation rate since May 2012.

Prices rose 2.2% in Los Angeles County and 1.1% in Orange County, the second- and third-lowest appreciation rates since the housing recovery began seven years ago.

Mortgage rates were a full percentage point lower this September compared to a year ago, boosting affordability for first-time buyers and supporting a rise in homeownership,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said.

In addition, personal income grew faster than home prices during the past year, he said, giving first-time buyers “an additional lift,” helping boost the homeownership rate to the highest level in more than five years.

More significantly, the index shows Orange County house prices are still gaining, even though a separate CoreLogic index based on median prices showed year-over-year house price drops there in four of the past 11 months.

Like the Case-Shiller index, the CoreLogic Home Price Index is based on same-home price comparisons, a process deemed more accurate than median-price comparisons because it matches a home‘s latest sale price with its previous sales.

Los Angeles and Orange County index values hit all-time highs in September, CoreLogic figures show. The index value for the Inland Empire, however, remains 10% below the record set in April 2006, at the height of the housing bubble.

The HPI index values are based on price gains and losses since 1990, when index values were set at 100.

California house prices increased 1.7% in September, while nationwide prices rose 3.5%, the index showed.

CoreLogic expects prices to continue going up for the next year, rising 5.6% through next September in the nation as a whole.

Tribune Content Agency

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