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U.S. home prices rise in March as spring buying season begins

A home for sale at 2006 Floral Ave. in Charlotte in a September 2014 file photo.
A home for sale at 2006 Floral Ave. in Charlotte in a September 2014 file photo. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

U.S. home prices kept climbing in March as the spring home buying season began, but so far the higher costs haven’t thwarted sales.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index increased 5.4 percent in March compared with a year earlier. That is the same annual gain as in February.

Nationally, home prices rose 5.2 percent from a year ago. In Charlotte, prices rose 4.3 percent, slightly faster than the prior month’s gain, according to the report released Tuesday morning.

Solid job growth, modest increases in wages and salaries, and low mortgage rates are fueling Americans’ willingness to buy homes. There is also a limited supply of homes on the market, which pushes up prices.

David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, says the number of homes on the market is equal to less than 2 percent U.S. households, the lowest percentage since the mid-1980s.

Still, sales of existing homes rose 1.7 percent in April, the second straight increase. The Observer contributed.

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