Home prices in the U.S. enjoyed the largest annual increase in July that they had in six years, increasing 3.8 percent from prices in July 2011.  CoreLogic, in releasing its July Home Price Index (HPI) which also includes sales of distressed properties, noted that July's prices were also up from the previous month, increasing 1.3 percent.  This was the fifth consecutive month that the Index had increased on both an annual and month-over-month basis.

When distressed sales, transactions involving homes that have been foreclosed into bank ownership (REO) or are in some stage of foreclosure, are excluded from the figures CoreLogic's HPI rose 4.3 percent from July 2011 and was up 1.7 percent month-over-month.  This was also the fifth consecutive month-over-month increase.

Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to July 2012) was -27.2 percent.  Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -20.2 percent. 

The five states with the highest annual appreciation rate including distressed sales were Arizona (+16.6 percent), Idaho (+10.0 percent), Utah (+9.3 percent), South Dakota (+8.3 percent), and Colorado (+7.3 percent.)  With distressed sales excluded the best performance was still in Arizona (11.3 percent) followed by Utah (+10.5 percent), Montana (+9.1 percent), South Dakota (+8.6 percent), and North Dakota (+6.9 percent.)

Overall depreciation was highest in Alabama (-4.6 percent), Delaware (-4.8 percent), Rhode Island (-2.2 percent), and Connecticut and Illinois, each at -1.7 percent, With distressed sales excluded prices fell 3.5 percent in Delaware, 2.4 percent in Alabama, 1.2 percent in New Jersey and were down fractionally in Virginia and Connecticut.

Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 23 are showing year-over-year declines in July, four fewer than in June. 

CoreLogic predicts that prices will show an even faster rate of appreciation in its August report with an expected annual increase of 4.6 percent including distressed sales and 6.0 percent for market rate sales.  The July to August changes for the distressed and the non-distressed indices are expected to be +0.6 percent and +1.3 percent respectively.  The Pending HPI is based on Multiple Listing Service data that measures price changes in the most recent month.

"It's been six years since the housing market last experienced the gains that we saw in July, with indications the summer will finish up on a strong note," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.  "Although we expect some slowing in price gains over the balance of 2012, we are clearly seeing the light at the end of a very long tunnel."

 "The housing market continues its positive trajectory with significant price gains in July and our expectation of a further increase in August," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "While the pace of growth is moderating as we transition to the off-season for home buying, we expect a positive gain in price levels for the full year."