Monday, May 6, 2013



NEW YORK – May 6, 2013 – Home prices in 10 percent of the nation’s top 200 housing markets have recently hit new peaks or are only a hair away, new data show.

Another 24 of the top markets are within 5 percent of their peaks, according to data provided to USA TODAY by real estate tracker Lender Processing Services. Many of those cities are likely to hit new peaks this year, economists say, given projections for continued price increases.

The data show how far prices in many cities have rebounded since the historic housing bust after mid-2006 – and how far they still have to go in most cities. It also underscores the uneven impact of the housing bubble, and the bust, in different regions.

Dozens of markets where prices peaked by 2006 are still 25 percent to 58 percent below those highs, LPS says.

Many cities now at or close to previous highs never saw the price run-ups leading up to the bust that others did. Afterward, they didn’t drop as far, so they have less of a climb back.

Of the cities within 5 percent of their previous peaks, none saw more than an 11 percent decline in home values from mid-2006 to the market’s bottom in early 2012, LPS data show. Nationally, prices fell almost 28 percent during that time.

“We didn’t get invited to the party, so we never had the hangover,” says Ron Croushore, CEO of Prudential Preferred Realty in Pittsburgh.

Denver, which was up almost 1 percent in February from its 2006 peak, suffered almost a 10 percent decline during the national housing bust. Honolulu, which was 2 percent from its 2007 peak in February, had been hit with an 11 percent decline.

Job growth is another factor in recovered markets.

Austin, Denver, Baton Rouge, Houston, Oklahoma City and Knoxville, Tenn., are at previous highs or within 5 percent, LPS’ data show. In March, all posted stronger annual job growth than the national average of 1.4 percent, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Austin’s job growth was 4 percent year-over-year. Home prices there are up 9.7 percent from mid-2006, LPS says.

The strong job market “has helped our housing market recover rather quickly,” says Angelos Angelou of the Austin-based Angelou Economics.

In the past year, U.S. home prices rose faster than many expected. LPS shows a 7.3 percent gain in February year over year.

Some cities have done better. Home prices in Phoenix and San Francisco were up 19 percent.

Even so, Phoenix is 36 percent off its 2006 peak. San Francisco is almost 25 percent off its peak, LPS says.

Copyright © USA TODAY 2013

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