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RISMEDIA, July 30, 2011—(MCT)—A closely watched index of home prices in the largest U.S. cities increased from April to May, the second consecutive month of improvement, but experts attributed the bump to seasonal variations and prices continued to fall compared to a year earlier.

The housing market has been in the doldrums since last summer—with sales and prices falling—after the expiration of a popular tax credit for buyers.

Foreclosures and a sluggish jobs environment continue to weigh on the housing market.

Prices of previously owned single-family homes rose 1 percent in May from April but were down 4.5 percent from May 2010, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of 20 metropolitan areas released Tuesday.

In March, home prices fell below their recession-era low in April 2009, confirming a much-expected double-dip in home prices.

“We see some seasonal improvements with May’s data,” says David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee. “This is a seasonal period of stronger demand for houses, so monthly price increases are to be expected.”

Sixteen out of the 20 metro areas tracked by the index posted increases on a month-over-month basis, though only Washington was up from the same month a year earlier, rising 1.3 percent.

(c) 2011, Los Angeles Times.

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