WASHINGTON (AP) — U. S. home prices in November extended their steady recovery from the housing bust, rising 7.4 percent compared with a year ago. It was the biggest year-over-year increase in 6½ years.

CoreLogic, a private data provider, said Tuesday that prices also rose 0.3 percent in November from October. The month-to-month figures are not seasonally adjusted. CoreLogic compiles its indexes by tracking sales of the same homes over time, using data on sales in all 50 states.

The gains in home prices have been widespread across most of the country. And CoreLogic forecasts that prices will increase 6 percent this year.

Prices in November were higher than in November 2011 in all but six states. And only 13 of 100 large cities that CoreLogic studies reported year-over-year price declines. That was down from 20 cities in October.

The sharpest increases were in Arizona, Nevada and Idaho. North Dakota and California rounded out the top five.

Steady price increases are helping fuel the housing recovery. They're encouraging some people to sell homes and enticing would-be buyers to purchase homes before they get more expensive. Rising prices also reduce the number of homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

"All signals currently point to a progressive stabilization of the housing market and the positive trend in home price appreciation to continue into 2013," said Anand Nallathambi, CEO of CoreLogic.

Despite the gains, home prices nationwide are still nearly 27 percent lower than in April 2006, when prices peaked during the housing bubble.

Some of the biggest gains have been in states that were hurt the worst. Prices in one of them, Arizona, have jumped nearly 21 percent in the past year, the most of any state. But prices in that state are still nearly 40 percent below their peak.

And prices in Nevada have risen 14.2 percent in the past year but remain 53 percent below peak levels.

The states where prices continue to fall include Delaware, where they are 4.9 percent below a year ago, and Illinois, down 2.2 percent. Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania are also reporting declines.

Prices rose 24 percent in Phoenix in the past 12 months, the most of any large metro area. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. was next with a 9.7 percent rise. It was followed by Los Angeles, where prices rose 8.4 percent.

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