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VOL. 127 | NO. 144 | Wednesday, July 25, 2012

US Home Values Have Hit Bottom, Zillow Says

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SEATTLE (AP) – U.S. home values have risen four consecutive months, Zillow.com said on Tuesday, a trend that led the housing website to declare that the market has turned the corner from its five-year slump.

"After four months with rising home values and increasingly positive forecast data, it seems clear that the country has hit a bottom in home values," said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Seattle-based Zillow, which measures home values. "The housing recovery is holding together despite lower-than-expected job growth, indicating that it has some organic strength of its own."

The home value index in the second quarter rose on an annual basis for the first time since 2007, increasing 0.2 percent compared with last year's second quarter to $149,300, according to Zillow. Going back to March, values have now risen four months in a row.

Zillow's index is a measure of the value of single-family residences, condominiums and units in housing cooperatives, regardless of whether those homes sold within a given period. The index is calculated using Zillow's method for estimating current home values in a given geographic area on a given day. The index is based on data from more than 80 million homes, Zillow says.

The index differs from other indexes that track prices of recently sold homes, such as the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index. According to the latest numbers from that better-known index, home prices rose in nearly all major U.S. cities in April from March, further evidence of a housing market that is slowly improving even while the job market slumps.

Second-quarter data showed annual increases in home values in nearly one-third of the metropolitan areas that it tracks, or 53 of 167. Phoenix posted the largest increase, with values rising 12.1 percent from last year's second quarter.

Zillow forecasts that home values will increase over the next year in nearly 43 percent of the markets it tracks, with Phoenix expected to lead with a 9.9 percent increase, followed by Miami with a 6.1 percent gain. U.S. home values are expected to rise 1.1 percent overall.

"Of course, there is still some risk as we look down the foreclosure pipeline and see foreclosure starts picking up," Humphries said.

That would result in a greater supply of homes being offered for sale by the end of the year.

"But we think demand will rise to absorb that, particularly in markets where there are acute inventory shortages now," Humphries said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 65 366 17,721
MORTGAGES 70 417 23,068
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 15 91 4,519
BUILDING PERMITS 210 932 42,157
BANKRUPTCIES 62 299 16,691
BUSINESS LICENSES 19 80 5,781
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 49 305 25,174
MARRIAGE LICENSES 16 96 5,381

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