Home prices rose in August in nearly all US cities, and many of the markets hit hardest during the crisis are starting to show sustained gains.

The increases are the latest evidence of a steady housing recovery in the US.

The Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index showed that that US home prices increased 2% in August compared with the same month a year ago.

That is the third increase in a row and a faster pace than in July.

The report also said that prices rose in August from July in 19 of the 20 cities tracked by the index. Prices had risen in all 20 cities in the previous three months.

Cities that had suffered some of the worst price declines during the housing crisis are starting to come back. Prices in Las Vegas rose 0.9%, the first year-over-year gain since January 2007. Prices in Phoenix are 18.8% higher in August than a year ago. Home values in Tampa and Miami have also posted solid increases over the period.

Seattle was the only city to report a monthly decline, but prices there fell just 0.1% in August from July and are 3.4% higher than a year ago.

The steady increase in prices, along with the lowest mortgage rates in decades, has helped many US home markets slowly rebound nearly six years after the housing bubble burst. Rising home prices encourage more people to put their homes on the market. They may also entice would-be buyers to purchase homes before prices rise further.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of US homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average.

The August figures are the latest available. The figures are not seasonally adjusted, so some of the gains in August reflect the benefit of the summer buying season. Other recent reports show that the US housing market is improving, albeit from depressed levels.

Home builders started construction on new homes and apartments at the fastest pace in over four years last month. They also requested the most building permits in four years, a sign that many are confident that home sales gains will continue.

Home building is still far below the pace that economists say is consistent with a healthy housing market. New home sales jumped last month to the highest annual pace in the past two and a half years. Sales of previously occupied homes dipped in September but have risen steadily in the past year.