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A "for sale" sign stands outside an existing home in California. Home prices in Los Angeles have made steady gains since early 2012.
The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price index for December was released Tuesday. The closely watched measure of the U.S. housing market showed that Los Angeles experienced sustained price gains in 2012, with a year-over-year increase of 10.2 percent.
L.A. was one of seven cities in the index that posted double-digit gains (Phoenix topped the list, with a year-over-year gain of 23 percent.)
L.A. is included in both the 10- and 20-city Case-Shiller composites, which lag the market by two months and represent a three-month moving average of prices. That's why we're just getting December 2012 now.
Home-price gains in L.A. picked up a bit of steam from November to December, with a 1.1-percent gain, an improvement on the October-November increase of 0.4 percent . In the context of the entire Case-Shiller index, L.A. saw the second-highest monthly gain, outdone only by Las Vegas at 1.8 percent. Many cities in the index had monthly prices declines, as seasonal factors affected markets around the U.S.
Nationally, 2012 was a solid year for housing. Prices were up 7.3 percent and have now returned to late 2003 levels. One factor to bear in mind, however, is that in L.A. some of the increase can be attributed to a lack of homes for sale. Once the supply crunch eases, prices could decline or gains could level off.