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posted: 7/29/2012 4:47 AM

Zillow: Home industry's worst days are over

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  • Zillow believes the real estate industry has bottomed out and brighter days are ahead.

    Zillow believes the real estate industry has bottomed out and brighter days are ahead.
    Associated Press

Associated Press

SEATTLE -- U.S. home values have risen four consecutive months, said, 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.

• The Daily Herald's oneline real estate page includes home values calculated by Zillow.

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