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San Diego County home prices rose between July and August, according to data released Tuesday morning.

The 1.56 percent increase marked the fourth straight month the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index reflected rising home prices compared to the previous month.

A version of the index adjusted to account for typical seasonal trends captured a similar change from July to August, showing a 1.52 percent increase.

From the market peak in November 2005, the most recent index showed a local price drop of 38.75 percent.

The prices paid for resale houses in August, as captured in the index, were still off 8.85 percent from their level in August 2008.

That year-over-year gap has been shrinking for 11 months. August’s 8.85 percent change is the first time the price difference from the same month a year earlier has been in the single digits since October 2007’s index.

Broken by price tier, the index showed the following trends for August:

  • Low tier (Under $281,769): Prices up 2.45 percent from July; down 13.31 percent year-over-year; down 50.2 percent from the tier’s peak in June 2006.
  • Middle tier (between $277,598 and $427,404): Prices up 1.6 percent from July; down 7.37 percent year-over-year; down 38.29 percent from the tier’s peak in November 2005.
  • High tier (Over $427,404): Prices up 0.26 percent from July, down 10.36 percent year-over-year; down 30.07 percent from the tier’s peak in June 2006.

(All tiers showed very similar monthly gains in the seasonally adjusted version of the index, too.)

One big question about the future of the housing market’s apparent solidifying is whether the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers will be extended past the Nov. 30 deadline. From the AP this morning:

The real estate industry is lobbying Congress to extend the credit past the Nov. 30 deadline. Top Democrats in the Senate are pressing a plan that would prolong the credit but gradually phase it out over the next year.

The New York Times included perspective from Standard & Poor’s vice president for index services, Maureen Maitland, about

The credit is pulling forward sales from next year, which is leading some analysts to forecast a bleak 2010.

“Everything is up for grabs this winter,” Ms. Maitland said.

KELLY BENNETT

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