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Home prices increased 1.3% in March from February on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's monthly home-price index released Thursday. Compared with the same month a year earlier, March home prices were up 7.2%.
The index value in March was 199.1, with a reading of 100 equal to the price of homes in January 1991.
The FHFA's index is calculated by using the prices of houses purchased with mortgages backed by government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC).
The index is roughly the same level as in November 2004.
Rising housing prices encourage builders to break ground on new projects and homeowners to sell their properties and buy new ones. A report Wednesday from the National Association of Realtors said existing-home sales inched up 0.6% in April from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million sales, the highest level since November 2009.
The housing market helped pull the economy into a severe recession, which ended in June 2009. But housing has been a big component of growth of late. Residential fixed investment--which includes home building and household improvements--rose at an annual rate of 12.6% during the first quarter, building on solid gains over the past two years.
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