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Home prices show strongest growth in 7 years

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The median home price nationwide saw its biggest jump in seven years last quarter as for-sale inventory hit its lowest level in 12 years, according to a quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors. Of 152 metro areas, 133 (87.5 percent) saw their median sales prices rise year over year in fourth-quarter 2012 compared with 120 in the third quarter and only 29 in fourth-quarter 2011. Nationally, the median sales price jumped 10 percent on an annual basis, to $178,900 -- the strongest annual price increase since fourth-quarter 2005 when the median rose 13.6 percent, NAR said. "Home sales are on a sustained uptrend; mortgage interest rates are hovering near record lows; and unsold inventory is at the lowest level in 12 years," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, in a statement.  "Home sales are being fueled by a pent-up demand and job creation, along with still favorable affordability conditions and rents rising at faster rates. Our population has bee...