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Originally published June 26, 2012 at 7:52 AM | Page modified June 27, 2012 at 6:44 AM

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Seattle-area home prices rise 2 percent in April

The gain in home prices in the Seattle metropolitan area from March to April was the biggest monthly gain since before the housing crisis began, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home prices indexes.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Home prices in the Seattle metropolitan area rose 2 percent in April, their biggest monthly gain since before the housing crisis began, according to a closely watched index.

Altogether, 19 of the 20 cities tracked by the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price indexes saw prices increase between March and April, according to a report released Tuesday. Seattle's month-over-month increase topped the 1.3 percent gain in the 20-city composite index.

This region's 2 percent rise follows a 1.7 percent jump in March after seven straight months of declines, providing further signs the real-estate market may be recovering.

The Seattle metropolitan area includes King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. April is the most recent month for which information is available.

Home prices historically rise in the spring, but Seattle prices rose even when seasonal factors were considered. Prices still were down 1 percent from April 2011, but that was a smaller drop than that of the 20-city index, and an improvement over March's year-over-year decline.

The story was similar in most other cities. Atlanta, Cleveland, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., experienced monthly price jumps bigger than Seattle's. While prices still were down from a year ago nationally, nine of the 20 cities saw prices increase year-over-year.

"It has been a long time since we enjoyed such broad-based gains," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices. "While one month does not make a trend, particularly during seasonally strong buying months, the combination of rising positive monthly index levels and improving annual returns is a good sign."

The Seattle area's Case-Shiller score for April was 133.84, meaning prices were 33.84 percent higher than in January 2000. The region's highest score, 192.30, came in July 2007.

The April numbers confirm "home-price stabilization remains on track," Stan Humphries, chief economist for Seattle-based online real-estate marketplace Zillow, said in a statement.

Despite the European debt crisis and reports of weakening U.S. job growth, "we've been able to keep the wheels on the wagon of a housing-market recovery longer than we did in the prior two years," Humphries said.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231or epryne@seattletimes.com

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