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Consumers Remain Upbeat on Home Prices

Even as price increases start to lose momentum, the majority of Americans polled by finance site ""Bankrate.com"":http://www.bankrate.com/ anticipate more gains over the next year.

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According to Bankrate, 55 percent of Americans surveyed think prices will go up over the next 12 months, while 27 percent said they expect prices to stay flat. Nine percent expect a drop, and another 9 percent said they don't know or refused to answer.

Upper-middle-income households (those that earn between $50,000 and $75,000 per year) expressed the most optimism in the survey, with 65 percent expecting prices to rise and only 6 percent expecting them to fall.

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The survey follows a July poll showing that nearly a quarter--23 percent--of Americans believe real estate is the best way to invest money ""not needed for more than 10 years.""

""It seems like Americans' love affair with real estate has returned,"" said Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst for Bankrate. ""But there are still some clear headwinds, including rising mortgage rates, stubbornly high unemployment and the relatively low U.S. household savings rate.""

Respondents weren't as positive regarding their financial security. Bankrate's Financial Security Index slipped from 100.5 in August to 99.5 in September--the first decline since February. Readings below 100 indicate a decrease in financial security compared to the same time last year.

When asked about debt, consumers were especially concerned, with 21 percent saying they feel less comfortable than they did last year and only 17 percent feeling more comfortable.

Overall, the number of those who feel better about their financial situation was the same as those who didn't, with each answer attracting 25 percent of respondents. Forty-nine percent said they feel about the same.

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