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US home prices rose in January following three-month decline

WASHINGTON -- U.S. home prices rose in January after three months of declines. A tight supply of homes might have helped boost prices and offset sales slowed by cold weather.

Real estate data provider CoreLogic says prices rose 0.9 percent in January after dipping 0.1 percent in December. Over the past 12 months, home prices have risen 12 percent, the biggest year-over-year gain in more than eight years.

CoreLogic's price figures aren't adjusted for seasonal patterns, such as winter weather, which can depress sales.

Snowstorms and low temperatures contributed to a sharp drop in sales of existing homes in January. The National Association of Realtors said sales plunged to their lowest level in 18 months. Still, the number of homes for sale remained low, a factor that might have helped increase prices.

Home sales and construction have faltered over the winter, partly because the weather has likely discouraged many Americans from house-hunting. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage is also about a percentage point more than it was last spring, which means buying costs are higher.

A measure of signed contracts was unchanged in February. Signed contracts usually lead to a finished sale in one to two months. And builders broke ground on 16 percent fewer homes in January than in December, the government said last month. That was the second straight decline.

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