These healthier sales figures mean housing values should stabilize further over the course of the year, according to Yun.
"The surge in home sales was driven by buyers responding strongly to the tax credit combined with record low mortgage interest rates," Yun said. "With inventory levels trending down over the past 18 months, we expect broadly balanced housing market conditions in much of the country by late spring with more areas showing higher prices."
Reality checkHowever, a reversal of fortune in many other markets overshadowed the positive news about home price gains in the Midwest and a jump in overall U.S. sales.
The 2009 third-quarter gains in median home values turned to losses during the fourth quarter in markets that have recorded steep price declines during the nation's multi-year housing downturn.
Fourth-quarter declines occurred in beleaguered markets such as Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla. (down 14.9 percent year-over-year), Reno-Sparks, Nev. (down 18.9 percent year-over-year) and Orlando, Fla. (down 20.3 percent year-over-year).
Many markets continue to decline significantly year over year. Following are the top 10 falling markets in terms of year-over-year median home values:
Top 10 falling markets
|Ocala, Fla.||-23.4 percent|
|Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.||-23.3 percent|
|Orlando, Fla.||-20.3 percent|
|Reno-Sparks, Nev.||-18.9 percent|
|Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla.||-18.9 percent|
|Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla||-18.8 percent|
|Pittsfield, Mass.||-16 percent|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla.||-14.9 percent|
|Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla.||-14.6 percent|
|Boise City-Nampa, Idaho||-14.5 percent|
How did home values fare in your area? See our state-by-state map of housing prices.