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Home prices rose slightly in the Portland area and in other major U.S. cities in September, marking six straight months of gains since the housing market started its recovery. Portland metro home prices rose 0.21 percent for the month, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller home price index released Tuesday. Compared with a year earlier, area home were up 3.7 percent.


Fifteen of the 20 cities surveyed showed gains for the month, and home prices are higher than they were a year ago in each city except for Chicago and New York. Atlanta broke a 26-month stretch of year-over-year declines with a 0.1 percent gain in September.


A composite index of all 20 cities showed home prices up 0.24 percent for the month and up 3 percent since a year ago.


“With six months of consistently rising home prices, it is safe to say that we are now in the midst of a recovery in the housing market,” said David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee.


Home prices have soared from their post-bubble lows recorded earlier this year, aided by a rise in home sales and sharp decline in the number of homes on the market. New construction has also increased this year as builders improved their outlook for sales in the coming months.


But despite newly affordable home prices and mortgage rates that have repeatedly set new record lows this year, including just last week, homebuyers are struggling with high credit standards and the slim inventory of homes available.


Prices in Portland remain 24.4 percent below their peak in July 2007.


The Case-Shiller index uses repeat sales of individual properties to measure relative changes in home values over time.


It's released on a two-month delay, and it uses a rolling average of three months of pricing data. The home-price index may begin to show a slump in coming months, reflecting typical seasonal weakness in home prices.

“We are entering the seasonally weak part of the year," Blitzer said. "Despite the seasons, housing continues to improve."


By Elliot Njus, The Oregonian, November 27, 2012