Workers build a home in Rancho Santa Fe. (Sam Hodgson / Bloomberg )
Home prices in the largest U.S. cities are recovering at boom-era levels, with a closely watched index posting its strongest increase in close to seven years.
Tight housing supply and strong demand continued to fuel a robust market recovery in March, with the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index of 20 U.S. cities recording a 10.9% year-over-year increase.
That was the strongest increase since April 2006. The index was up 1.4% from the prior month.
A separate national index showed home prices rising 10.2% year-over-year at the end of the first quarter.
INTERACTIVE MAP: Southland Home Prices
The price increases mean that a housing recovery that began last year is gaining momentum. The cities of Charlotte, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and Tampa posted their biggest month-over-month gains in more than seven years.
On an annual basis, the recovery has been widespread, with every metro area tracked by the survey posting year-over-year gains for the past three consecutive months. Home prices, as gauged by the 20-city index, are now about 29% off their peak.
The Phoenix area had the largest annual gain, up 22.5%. San Francisco was not far behind, posting a 22.2% gain. Once downtrodden metro areas showed huge jumps, with Las Vegas up 20.6%; Atlanta, 19.1%; Detroit, 18.5%; and Los Angeles, 16.6%.
The housing recovery began last year as foreclosures waned, low mortgage interest rates lured buyers back to the market and inventory remained tight. Investors have also played a big role in the market, snapping up homes on the cheap to either flip or rent out.
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