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Originally published May 29, 2012 at 7:15 AM | Page modified May 30, 2012 at 6:21 AM

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Seattle-area home prices rise 1.7 percent in March from February

After the decline for seven straight months, the rise in March home prices in the Seattle metropolitan area provides more evidence the market may at long last have hit bottom.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Home prices in the Seattle metropolitan area bounced back in March after declining for seven straight months, according to one closely watched index, providing more evidence the market may at long last have hit bottom.

Prices were up 1.7 percent from February, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price Index. Among the 20 cities Case-Shiller tracks, only Phoenix saw a bigger month-over-month increase.

The composite index for all 20 cities was unchanged, but prices rose in 12 of the cities.

Home prices often rise in the spring. But Seattle-area prices jumped in March even with seasonal factors taken into account.

The Seattle metropolitan area includes King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. March is the most recent month for which information is available.

Seattle-area prices still were down 1.3 percent from March 2011, according to Case-Shiller. But the annual rate of decline was an improvement from February.

The March 20-city index was down more steeply — 2.6 percent — from the same month last year.

Prices were up year-over-year in seven cities: Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix.

"This is what we need for a sustained recovery; monthly increases coupled with improving annual rates of change," David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee of S&P Indices, said in a statement. "Once we see this on a broader level, we will be able to say the market has turned around."

The area's Case-Shiller score for March was 131.23, meaning prices were 31.23 percent higher than in January 2000. February's score was 128.99. The peak, 192.30, came in July 2007.

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