A home price index based on multiple listing service data showed national home prices were up 3.8 percent from a year ago in July, the biggest annual increase since August 2006.  Home prices were down from a year ago in 23 of the 100 largest markets tracked by data aggregator CoreLogic’s home price index, but that’s four fewer than in June.

And while the index showed national home prices are still off 27.2 percent from their April 2006 peak, CoreLogic’s pending home price index predicts home prices will post month-over-month appreciation of 1.3 percent in August, as they did in July. An increase like that in August would amount to 6 percent year-over-year growth.

The pace of price appreciation is moderating as markets transition to the off-season for homebuying, CoreLogic noted. But CoreLogic Chief Economist Mark Fleming predicted prices will post gains for the full year.

It’s been six years since the housing market last experienced the gains that we saw in July, with indications the summer will finish up on a strong note,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, in a statement. “Although we expect some slowing in price gains over the balance of 2012, we are clearly seeing the light at the end of a very long tunnel.”