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San Diego County home prices rose 0.4 percent in November compared to November 2008, according to the most recent Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index, released this morning.

It was the first year-over-year price boost since July 2006.

San Diego was one of four places measured in the Case-Shiller index to register the positive change, along with Denver, Dallas and San Francisco.

The increase was even more pronounced — 1 percent — in a version of the index adjusted for typical seasonal trends. Usually, buying and selling activity tapers off in the autumn months heading into the holidays. This year, government incentives, low interest rates and fallen prices have pulled more buyers and sellers out into the market, resulting in a busier fall.

November also marked four years since the boom market hit its peak. In November 2005, home prices were up 150 percent compared to their levels in January 2000. Prices had fallen 42 percent from that level by April last year, but have since risen some. With this latest installment, home prices are about 33 percent down from the peak four years ago.

It was the seventh month in a row prices have risen from the previous month (six if you look at the seasonally adjusted index — more on that here).

Here’s a look at how each third of the market fared:

  • Low tier (Under $297,079): Prices rose 1.72 percent from October.
  • Middle tier (Between $297,079 and $453,355): Prices rose 1.13 percent from October.
  • High tier (Over $453,355): Prices rose 0.27 percent from October.

As we’ve been talking about, there are a couple of overarching questions in this market: Why are prices rising, and will they continue to rise? Many things play a role in answering both of these, including shadow inventory and the employment picture. A couple of those links send you to Rich Toscano’s Nerd’s Eye View blog. If you missed it, check out Toscano’s look at San Diego’s home-price-to-income ratio over time.

(Quick personal note: I’m sorry the blog’s been so quiet of late. I’m wrapping up a project that we’re excited to share with you in just a few days, so stay tuned. And if you’ve not yet heard, you’re invited to join us for a celebration of voiceofsandiego.org’s five-year anniversary next week. Please come by and say hi and we can nerd out about what you’re seeing in the local economy.)

— KELLY BENNETT

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