(Reuters) - Home prices rose more than expected in June, the fifth month in a row of gains in a fresh sign of improvement in the housing market, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday.
The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping economists' forecasts for 0.5 percent, according to a Reuters poll.
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, prices were even stronger, up 2.3 percent.
"We seem to be witnessing exactly what we needed for a sustained recovery; monthly increases coupled with improving annual rates of change," David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a statement.
"The market may have finally turned around."
Prices in the 20 cities rose 0.5 percent compared to the year before. Atlanta fared the worst, tumbling 12.1 percent from a year ago. Phoenix continued to bounce back from poor conditions and was up nearly 14 percent.
Although prices in June likely got a boost from the traditionally strong summer buying season, the gains on both a monthly and yearly basis boded well for the housing market, said Blitzer.
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