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Home prices rise, foreclosure sales drop in D.C. area

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Local,Joey Flechas

Washington-area home prices rose about 10.5 percent in July over the previous year, according to a report released Thursday by real estate analytics company Clear Capital.

"I'm not surprised at that, because we're looking at a lot of recovery," said Donna Evers, president and broker of D.C.-based Evers & Co. Real Estate.

Nationally, home prices spiked by 8.1 percent in July from last year, a jump that is continuing an encouraging trend.

"Home prices continue to show positive growth from the first quarter of the year," said Alex Villacorta, senior statistician for Clear Capital.

The percentage increase for the D.C. area represents a slight cooling in gains from June's year-over-year 10.7 percent increase, but still marks improvement from May's 9 percent year-over-year figure.

Villacorta said the fluctuation doesn't weaken the area's momentum. A 10.5 percent increase is still strong, he said.

Another positive sign for the local market is the falling percentage of bank-owned sales.

According to the report, bank sales of foreclosures accounted for 14.7 percent of all properties sold -- 1.9 percentage points less than was reported last month and 7 percentage points less that what was reported three months ago.

Villacorta said at the market's worst point, 40 percent of all sales were bank sales.

Signs point to few foreclosed properties going on the market. Evers said banks could be encouraging the trend as interest rates decrease.

"I know that banks do not enjoy the foreclosure process," she said. "They are still not grappling with it. They don't do it well."

Anirban Basu, president and chief executive officer of Sage Policy Group, an economic consulting firm in Baltimore, said the drop in bank sales could indicate that recovery over the next six to nine months could be dramatic.

"It's a leading indicator that is telling us recovery going forward in the area of the housing market could be quite brisk," he said.

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