Christopher S. Rugaber

WASHINGTON: Home prices accelerated in November compared with a year ago, pushed higher by rising sales and a tighter supply of available homes.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.5 percent in November compared with the same month a year ago. That’s the largest year-over-year gain in six years.

All but one of the cities in the index posted annual gains. The largest gain was in Phoenix, where prices jumped nearly 23 percent. It was followed by San Francisco, where prices rose 12.7 percent, and Detroit, where they increased 11.9 percent.

New York was the only city to report a drop from a year ago.

In the Cleveland metropolitan area, the November 2012 measure was 100.68, which was an increase of 1.8 percent from November 2011. The November 2012 figure was down 0.8 percent from October and down 0.6 percent from October/September.

Prices also rose in 10 of the cities measured by the index in November from October. That’s up from seven in October from September. The biggest monthly gains were in San Francisco, Phoenix and Minneapolis.

Monthly prices are not seasonally adjusted and frequently decline over the winter. The 20-city index dipped in November from the previous month.

Steady price increases should help fuel the housing recovery.

The data “show a broad-based recovery in housing activity and prices across the country,” said Michael Gapen, an economist at Barclays Capital. “We expect this housing recovery to continue in the coming years.”

The S&P/Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average.

Despite the increases, prices nationwide are still about 30 percent below the peak they reached at the height of the housing bubble in the summer of 2006. They are now at the same level as in the fall of 2003.

Purchases of previously occupied homes rose last year to their highest level in five years. The National Association of Realtors forecasts that sales will rise 9 percent this year. Independent economists have similar forecasts.

Sales of new homes also rose in 2012, although they remain near depressed levels.

Beacon Journal business writer Katie Byard contributed to this report.