Home prices adjusted for seasonal variations in the 20-city index climbed 0.9% in December from the prior month, compared with a 0.7% gain in November. The December advance exceeded the Bloomberg survey median that called for a 0.7% gain.
The month-over-month gain was led by Las Vegas and Los Angeles. All 20 cities showed increases.
Unadjusted prices in the 20 cities climbed 0.2% in December from the previous month.
The year-over-year gauge provides better indications of trends in prices, the group has said. The panel includes Karl Case and Robert Shiller, the economists who created the index. Year-over-year records began in 2001.
Phoenix led the group of 19 cities that showed year-over-year increases, with a 23% jump in the 12 months to December. San Francisco was second with a 14.4% gain.
Atlanta and Detroit posted their biggest year-over-year gains in data going back to 1991, according to the report. Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis showed their biggest advances since 2001.
Only houses in New York lost value, dropping 0.5% over the 12-month period.
“Home prices ended 2012 with solid gains,” David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, said in a statement. “These movements, combined with other housing data, suggest that while housing is on the upswing some of the strongest numbers may have already been seen.”
Purchases of previously-owned homes rose in January even as depleted inventories restrained further improvement, the National Association of Realtors reported last week. About 4.66 million existing houses were sold last year, the most since 2007, according to the group’s data.