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Home prices edge lower by 0.1 percent in July

Though rising home values are good news for those who already have a home, climbing prices can make homeownership cost-prohibitive, even though mortgage rates are at historical lows. But there's good news for those people who are looking to buy at an affordable price point: The housing market appears to be slowing down, modest though it may be.

In July, home prices slid 0.1 percent, according to the most recent estimates from property and real estate listings website Zillow. That puts Zillow's Home Value Index at $179,900.

Svenja Gudell, Zillow's chief economist, indicated that the recent slippage in home values is a sign of the times.

"Many people didn't think it was happening, but it is: we're going negative," Gudell explained. "We've been expecting to see a monthly decline as markets return to normal. However, this is not like the bubble bust. We're not going to see 10 percent declines."

He added that the market returning to normalcy is definitely welcome news for buyers, because it will make it easier to bid on a house without engaging in a bidding war that drives prices to heights that some may not be able to reach, forcing some people to continue renting when rates are climbing.

Though prices nationally fell 0.1 percent, the drop was steeper in several major metropolitans statistical areas. In the nation's capital, for instance, prices dropped by 0.5 percent when contrasting July with June, the biggest change of the 517 metros analyzed. Other MSAs where prices dipped fairly appreciably included Baltimore, Cincinnati and Phoenix.

The National Association of Realtors suggests that home prices are higher than what Zillow's estimate suggests. In July, for all housing types, the median existing-home price was $234,000, up 5.6 percent from year-ago levels.

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