US home prices rise at solid pace, even with flat sales

WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices continued their steady upward march in February as buyers competed for a limited number of available properties.

The Standard Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.4 percent that month compared with a year earlier, according to a report released Tuesday. That’s down slightly from January’s 5.7 percent rise.

Prices are rising even as sales have leveled off in recent months. The number of homes for sale last month was 1.5 percent lower than a year earlier. That’s pushed buyers to act quickly, with homes on the market just 47 days in March, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Svenja Gudell, chief economist at real estate website Zillow, said the problem is particularly acute for first-time buyers and those looking at mid-level homes.

“Heading into spring, buyers looking for the most expensive homes will find somewhat softening prices, a larger selection of homes to choose from and more

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