WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home price gains cooled in February from the previous year for the third month in a row, as harsh winter weather and high buying costs have slowed sales.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 12.9 percent in February compared with 12 months earlier. While healthy, that is down from a 13.2 percent gain in January.
And home prices fell in 13 of the 20 cities in February compared with the previous month. The index is not adjusted for seasonal variations, so those declines partly reflect weaker sales in the winter.
In addition to bad weather, sales have been held back by a limited supply of available homes, which has forced potential buyers to bid up prices. That's caused prices to increase even as sales have slowed. Sales of existing homes fell to their lowest level in 20 months in March.
Still, with sales slowing, many economists forecast that price gains will keep dropping this year into the mid-single digits.
Prices in Las Vegas dipped 0.1 percent in February from the previous month, the city's first monthly decline in nearly two years. And home prices fell 1.6 percent in Cleveland and 0.7 percent in Tampa, Florida. Both monthly drops were the largest for those two cities since January 2012.
Las Vegas still posted the biggest 12-month gain, with an increase of 23.1 percent. But that's down from 24.9 percent in January. Many investors snapped up homes in Las Vegas after prices plunged in the housing bust, causing sharp price gains.
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