Home prices now average a record 3.5 times disposable household income, and they will have to slide down to the average level as interest rates rise, according to David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's.Speaking at a New York seminar organized by the rating agency, Mr. Wyss said it is now "awfully cheap" to buy a house, given historically low interest rates. Most of the home price rise comes from the fact that people are buying bigger and bigger houses, but it's more of a local phenomenon that is occurring in high-priced areas such as the Northeast, the West, and Florida, Mr. Wyss said. Home price appreciation is going on around the world, he noted. In the United Kingdom, for instance, there has been a 150% appreciation in home prices over the period 1997-2005, according to Mr. Wyss. S&P can be found on the Web at http://www.standardandpoors.com.

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