Homebuyers and sellers in many parts of the country have become so accustomed to recession-dampened housing costs that it may come as a surprise to realize we're back to double-digit price increases in some areas.

The biggest price spikes are in smaller cities, but major metropolitan areas also have recovered.In six of the 10 most expensive housing markets - Boston, Washington and many parts of New York - median prices now are higher than they were before the recession in 1990.

The exceptions to this general rise are mostly in California.

Prices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego are lower than they were in 1990 and were still falling in the third quarter this year, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.

Some areas in New York are still having problems as well.

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Nationally, the median price of a house has risen from $95,000 in 1990 to $108,000.

The latest NAR survey, comparing housing prices in the third quarter this year with the third quarter last year, showed increases of 9 percent or more in 21 cities and increases of 10 percent or more in about half of those, including Spokane, Wash. (up 15.3 percent), Fort Myers, Fla., (up 13.9 percent), Charleston, S.C., (up 11.8 percent) and Tucson, Ariz. (up 11.4 percent).

Housing prices fell in 18 cities, mostly in California and sections of the Northeast.

The largest decline, 6.9 percent, was in Los Angeles.

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