The top 5 cities with rising home prices (© Thinkstock)Click to enlarge picture

Washington, D.C., and Chicago are among a handful of U.S. cities that have seen housing prices rise in the past year. // © Thinkstock

These days, homeowners in most large cities are at best trying to hang on to whatever price gains their local markets achieved as a result of the homebuyers tax credit. When it comes to residential real estate, in many cities there is still little reason to hope that things are getting all that much better.

Hopes have been tempered in even places like San Diego, where home prices increased for 15 consecutive months. Then in August, according to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller composite home-price index, home prices in San Diego dropped by 0.6%. Indeed, the broad measure of U.S. home prices showed that in August, home prices fell in most of the 20 metro areas it tracks, from Boston to San Francisco. The housing market, says David Blitzer, chairman of the Standard & Poor's index committee, "continues to bounce along the recent lows."

Yet in a handful of major U.S. cities, housing prices have continued to rise slowly and steadily. In Washington, D.C., for example, housing prices have increased for five straight months. According to the index, housing prices in Washington have risen 4.8% in the last year, with monthly increases of 0.3% in August and a full 1% in July.

The nation's capital, with its economy propped up by government jobs, is not the only major metropolitan area where home prices have risen for five consecutive months. In Chicago, the residential real-estate market may be rebounding. Home prices in Chicago remain 2.9% below where they were one year ago, but home prices there rose 1% in July and 0.4% in August, the S&P/Case-Shiller index shows.

Detroit is another city that has seen five straight months of housing-price boosts. And even though home prices remain lower in Detroit than they were a year ago, the fact that prices rose 1.6% in July and 0.5% in August is cause for some optimism. New York has seen four months of home-price improvements, going up 1.2% in July and 0.2% in August.

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Still, none of the four cities that have seen at least four months of positive increases in home prices — Chicago, Detroit, New York and Washington, D.C. — had a monthly increase of greater than 1% in August. The only other city not to see home prices fall in August was Las Vegas, where home prices eked out a 0.1% gain and remain 4.5% lower than a year ago. If you live in Las Vegas, you probably still think housing prices generally go only in one direction: down.

The top 5 cities

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. New York
  3. Chicago
  4. Detroit
  5. Las Vegas

The August data from the S&P/Case-Shiller index was, on balance, not great, showing annual growth rates slowing in many cities that had recently been showing price increases. In much of California, for example, it seemed like housing prices had made meaningful partial recoveries. The index still shows that in the last year, home prices have increased by 5.4% in Los Angeles, 6.9% in San Diego and 7.8% in San Francisco. But these California increases now seem tenuous, since all three cities had price drops in August, with San Diego's drop being the steepest.

View the full list of where home prices are rising on Forbes.com.

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