US home prices see largest jump in six years, but SoCal buyers face uphill battle

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U.S. home prices increased nearly 4 percent in July.

Home prices in the United States surged this July, hitting an almost 4 percent bump over the average prices last year. Research firm CoreLogic reported Tuesday that this is the largest jump housing prices have seen in six years.

It was the nation's fifth consecutive increase in home prices, according to the firm's index, which includes foreclosures and short sales. CoreLogic said it expects prices will continue to increase in August.

"We are clearly seeing the light at the end of a very long tunnel," said Anand Nallathambi, the firm's CEO and president in a statement.

States that had the largest gains in home prices were seen in Arizona (which was up 17 percent) and Idaho (up 10 percent) CoreLogic said.

The jump in prices is due to consumers wanting to take advantage of low mortgage rates and attractive home prices, said Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for California Association of Realtors.

"People are recognizing that it's a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get into the housing market," Appleton-Young said.

Although home prices are improving, Southern California real estate agents said it's still a difficult time for people who are first time homebuyers, because there more interested buyers than there are homes for sale. Open houses have been jam-packed, and first-time buyers have competed head-on with investors eager to snap up properties with loads of cash.

"It's a large problem if you're a first-time homebuyer and you don't have your offers looked at when you're competing with seven or eight [other] offers," said Ruth McNevin, president of the Pasadena-Foothills Association of Realtors.

In July, the California Realtors Association estimated that the supply of homes up for sale in Los Angeles County could run out in about three months. On average, the association usually has a seven month supply of homes.

Realtors say part of the problem is that many homeowners are delaying putting up their homes for sale, saying they want to wait until sale prices recover.

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