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US home price gains slow in April in latest sign of sluggish housing recovery

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WASHINGTON - U.S. home prices rose in April compared with a year earlier, but the increase was the smallest annual gain in 14 months. Price gains have slowed this year as sales have faltered.

Data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday that prices rose 10.5 per cent in April from 12 months earlier. That is a healthy gain, but it is down from March's 11.1 per cent increase and February's 12.2 per cent rise.

On a month-to-month basis, April prices rose 2.1 per cent. But CoreLogic's monthly figures aren't adjusted for seasonal patterns, such as warmer spring weather.

Higher mortgage rates, tight credit and a limited supply of available homes have slowed the housing recovery. Sales of existing homes ticked up in April after falling to a 20-month low in March. They were still 6.8 per cent lower than a year ago.

Prices rose in the 12 months ending in April in every state, CoreLogic said. The states with the biggest price gains were California, 15.6 per cent; Nevada, 14.8 per cent; Hawaii, 14.1 per cent; Oregon, 11.8 per cent; and Michigan, 11.3 per cent.

Ninety-five of the 100 largest metro areas reported higher prices in April compared with a year earlier. The five that did not record an increase were: Hartford, Connecticut; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Little Rock, Arkansas; Worcester, Massachusetts; and New Haven, Connecticut.

Nationwide, home prices are still 14.3 per cent below the peak they reached in April 2006, when the housing bubble began to deflate. But in 23 states, prices are at or within 10 per cent of their previous peaks, according to CoreLogic's figures.

Housing began to recover in 2012, but sales of existing homes stalled after mortgage rates jumped last spring. Most economists forecast that sales will barely rise this year from 2013's pace of 5.1 million. Sluggish sales, in turn, will slow annual price gains this year to roughly 5 per cent or 6 per cent, economists predict.

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