The average price of existing single-family homes in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties jumped 1.4 percent in February from the previous month, after taking seasonal fluctuations into account, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index released Tuesday.

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Home prices accelerated in February in the Seattle area and nationwide, amid robust demand, tight inventory and the specter of higher interest rates, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index released Tuesday.

The average price of existing single-family homes in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties jumped 1.4 percent in February from the previous month, after taking seasonal fluctuations into account. The average price gain in January was 0.7 percent.

Over the year, the Seattle area posted a 7.1 percent average gain, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, publisher of the index.

Nationwide, home prices in all 20 metros rose in February from the previous month, with the 20-city index gaining 0.9 percent after adjustment for seasonal fluctuations.

San Francisco led the metros, with a 3.3 percent price increase.

Over the year, the 20-city index rose 5 percent. San Francisco and Denver had the highest year-over-year price gains among the 20 metros, with 9.8 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

While price gains accelerated in February in 17 metros, the pace slowed in San Diego, Las Vegas and Portland, Case-Shiller reported.

Overall, prices are galloping faster than the historical norm: From January 2000 to February this year, home prices nationally rose at a 1.7 percent annual rate after adjusting for inflation, Case-Shiller said Tuesday. Inflation has been running below 2 percent.

“Home prices continue to rise and outpace both inflation and wage gains,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P/Dow Jones Indices.

Blitzer said new construction of single-family homes is still “very weak, despite low vacancy rates among both renters and owner-occupied homes.”

Prices in only two metros — Dallas and Denver — have surpassed the levels set during the last housing boom, Case-Shiller reported.

Seattle-based Zillow said the housing market is improving.

The median home value in the Seattle metro area in March was $344,700, up 0.7 percent from the previous month and 6.5 percent year-over-year, Zillow reports.

But about 17 percent of homeowners with a mortgage still owed more than the value of their home as of the end of 2014.

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“Negative equity is likely to remain a persistent feature of the housing market for years, particularly among the kinds of less expensive, entry-level homes so attractive to younger buyers,” Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries said in a statement. “And as long as there is negative equity, the market can count on elevated numbers of short sales and foreclosures, localized price spikes and inventory shortages.”

Over the next 12 months, Zillow forecasts annual gains of 2.6 percent nationally and 5.5 percent in the Seattle metro area.

Information in this article, originally published april 28, 2015, was corrected April 30. The chart has been revised to correctly show seasonally adjusted data.