mortgage
Home prices bounce off bottom

Home prices rose across a large swath of the country during the second quarter, adding to the growing list of signs that the housing market has stabilized. Out of 155 markets included in the survey, 125 showed median price increases compared to the first quarter of this year.

Overall, the National Association of Realtors reports a nearly 4 percent rise in the median sales price for single family homes since the first quarter of the year, from $167,300 to $174,100.

In addition, several distressed markets are getting some much needed relief from the quarterly hammering they've been taking since the housing market peaked in the second quarter of 2006. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla., actually saw a 0.7 percent increase in home prices, breaking a losing streak going all the way back to the first quarter of 2007.

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., also registered a small quarterly gain for the first time since the second quarter of 2008, signaling that the pain for homeowners might be easing there.

Other markets that weren't as hard hit are showing signs of life as well. The Davenport-Moline-Rock Island area of Iowa and Illinois showed an impressive 30.6 percent increase in home values year over year. Also showing impressive gains were Cumberland, Md. (21.7 percent); Elmira, N.Y. (11.3 percent); and Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (11 percent).

Top 10 risers since 2nd quarter 2008
  1. Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill., up 30.6 percent to $113,200
  2. Cumberland, Md.-W.Va., up 21.7 percent to $123,500
  3. Elmira, N.Y., up 11.3 percent to $85,000
  4. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, up 11 percent to $138,600
  5. Jackson, Miss., up 8.2 percent to $140,100
  6. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y., up 6.7 percent to $115,400
  7. Bismarck, N.D., up 3.5 percent to $157,800
  8. Springfield, Ill., up 3.5 percent to $116,200
  9. Shreveport-Bossier City, La., up 3 percent to $146,800
  10. Topeka, Kan., up 2.7 percent to $113,300

Sales activity also showed gains over the first quarter, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.76 million units. In fact, 39 states showed an increase in sales over the first quarter, including Idaho (67.5 percent), Hawaii (24.2 percent), New York (22.3 percent) and Wisconsin (21.7 percent).

"With low interest rates, lower home prices and a first-time buyer tax credit, we've been seeing healthy increases in home sales, which are a hopeful sign for the economy," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in a statement.

Housing picture still bleak

Don't get too excited, though. Home prices nationwide are still down 15.6 percent year over year, and 23.4 percent since the housing bubble peaked in 2006.

Of the 155 metropolitan areas surveyed, 129 reported lower median existing single-family home prices compared to the second quarter of 2008; just 26 showed price gains.

Also, the rise in sales traffic continues to be driven in part by foreclosures and short sales, which accounted for 36 percent of transactions in the second quarter, according to NAR.

"The sharpest price declines continue to be concentrated in metros with high levels of foreclosures, including areas in California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada, where distressed homes comprise many of the transactions," said Yun.

For the third straight quarter, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area of southwest Florida recorded the biggest slump, falling 52.8 percent year-over-year. Since 2006, median prices in the region have taken a nose dive, plummeting from $268,200 to $84,000.

Other areas showing big declines in the second quarter were Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. (-39.7 percent); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (-39.1 percent); Sarasota, Bradenton-Venice, Fla. (-34 percent); San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (-33.8 percent); Orlando, Fla. (-33.2 percent); and San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif. (-31 percent).

Regionally, price drops were sharpest in the West (-26.6 percent), followed by the South (-10.3 percent), the Northeast (-9.7 percent) and the Midwest (-8.6 percent).

Top 10 decliners, year-over-year
  1. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., down 52.8 to $84,000
  2. Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., down 39.7 percent to $141,000
  3. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., down 39.1 percent to $161,000
  4. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., down 36.1 percent to $131,100
  5. Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Fla., down 34 pecent to $175,800
  6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., down 33.8 percent to $500,000
  7. Orlando, Fla., down 33.2 percent to $149,200
  8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla., down 33.1 percent to $207,400
  9. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif., down 31 percent to $472,900
  10. Saginaw-Saginaw Township North, Mich., down 30.6 percent to $55,700

How did home values fare in your area? See our state-by-state map.

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