More than half of the 146 metro markets tracked by the National Association of Realtors saw an increase in median home prices in the first quarter of this year. Prices rose in 74 markets, compared with only 29 in the last quarter of 2011, leading some analysts to predict that home prices are finally hitting bottom.
Markets that saw the biggest jump included a 28 percent increase in Ft. Myers, Fla., and a 19-percent increase in Grand Rapids, Mich. Median prices nationwide dropped 0.4 percent from first-quarter 2011 to $158,100. Biggest decliners included Kingston, N.Y., at 22 percent and Bridgeport, Conn., at 18 percent.
Distressed properties, including foreclosures and homes about to go into foreclosure, accounted for 32 percent of transactions in the first quarter, down from 38 percent during the fourth quarter last year.
Demand for vacation homes
The vacation-home market is also showing signs of a turnaround. Attracted by still-low prices and mortgage rates, buyers are snapping up second properties, although they are staying closer to home, according to the Wall Street Journal. Brokers are reporting that buyers are saying they don't want to miss this window of opportunity since supply is dwindling.
After falling 56 percent between 2006 and 2011, sales of second homes increased 7 percent in 2011, to 502,000. Meanwhile, the median price dropped 19 percent in 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors. But location still matters: while some parts of the popular Hamptons on Long Island, N.Y., are languishing, other, desirable areas are experiencing bidding wars.
Are you tempted to buy a vacation home before prices and rates rise?
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