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Housing market strengthening in US, around Boston

Home values in the Boston area rose by 2.3 percent in November compared with the same month in 2011, according to data released Tuesday by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which is widely considered a reliable measure of the housing market.

Nationwide, the improvement was more pronounced, with prices increasing by 5.5 percent in the 20 metropolitan areas tracked by Case-Shiller. Unlike some other housing barometers, the index is based on repeat home sales, which many industry analysts consider a more accurate way to gauge the market.

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The numbers add to a growing bundle of economic news showing the country’s long-suffering housing industry is on the rebound.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at the S&P Dow Jones Indices, said the increase in sales and values provides further evidence the housing market is helping to jump-start the US economy.

But Blitzer cautioned US home values are not likely to continue to rise at such a brisk pace. Normally, he said, values rise a bit faster than the rate of inflation.

“We are on the rebound and at some point the rise in prices will flatten out a little bit,” he said.

Some regions of the country that have endured steep housing market declines since 2006 — such as Detroit, Phoenix, and San Francisco — showed double-digit improvements in November compared with the same period in 2011.

“The Sun Belt, which bore the brunt of the housing collapse, is back in a leadership position,’’ Blitzer said.

The Boston region, which suffered less in the housing downturn, has shown less dramatic improvements in values this year than many other regions. Over the last three months, values have actually fallen when compared with the month before, Case-Shiller data show.

Blitzer said the short-term drop is not a reason for concern. Overall, he said, “housing is clearly recovering.”

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @jbmckim.
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