If you live in a city like San Diego or Pittsburgh and own your home, you can probably count on a rise in its value this year. That's the conclusion of a new study from Veros Real Estate Solutions, which found that 40% of major metro markets will see a bounceback in home values in 2011. Looking at all markets, Veros also found that cities with under 250,000 people will make up the majority of those with positive growth.
The survey comes at a time when the health of the U.S. housing market is in serious question. The national median U.S. home price is $168,800 -- 1% below December 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors. The NAR blames the stagnant home prices on the rising sales of distressed homes.
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"The modest rise in distressed sales, which typically are discounted 10% to 15% relative to traditional homes, dampened the median price in December, but the flat price trend continues," says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
But according to Vero Real Estate's VeroForecast, there is a light at the end of the tunnel -- at least for some. Using what it calls "advanced analytics and micro-market data," the Santa Ana, California-based company says that smaller cities seem to be faring best with housing prices right now, a trend that should continue for the rest of 2011.
Citing data from December 2010 and projecting through December 2011, the report notes that "smaller metro markets with populations less than 250,000 make up the majority of the better appreciating markets."
Such cities, which include Fargo, N.D. -- ranked second overall -- can expect home price appreciation of 2.5% to 3.5%% in 2011.
On the downside, Florida is expected to experience the most depreciation, with key areas like Orlando, Daytona Beach and Port St. Lucie all suffering the greatest percentage of housing price loss in 2010.
See the following chart for Vero's top five and bottom five housing markets:
5 Strongest U.S. Housing Markets: Dec. 2010-Dec. 2011
San Diego, Calif. +3.5%
Kennewick, Wash. +3.4%
Pittsburgh, Pa. +2.7%
Fargo, N.D. +2.6%
Washington, D.C. +2.5%
5 Weakest U.S. Housing Markets: Dec. 2010-Dec. 2011
Reno, Nev. -7.2%
Orlando, Fla. -6.5%
Boise City, Id. -6.4%
Daytona Beach, Fla. -6.3%
Port St. Lucie, Fla. -6.3%
Regionally, the report sees more vigorous recovery in the South, with overall growth rates being the best in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Besides Florida, the weakest regions for home prices are the pariahs of the housing crisis -- California and Nevada.
Vero also says that while overall growth isn't exactly robust, price trends are stronger than they were a year ago: "It is noteworthy that depreciating forecasts remain much better than those from a year ago with nothing worse than 7% depreciation," says Eric Fox, an analyst at Vero Real Estate Solutions. "A year ago, we were seeing some markets with depreciation rates in the double-digit range."
"Approximately 40% of all major metro areas are forecast to appreciate over the next 12 months, even though appreciation is expected to be mild," he adds. "Looking out to the 12 to 24 month horizon, nearly 60% of markets are expected to appreciate. So while things aren't happening rapidly, the forecast indicates they are getting better."
That would certainly be great news for the embattled U.S. housing market. After years of stagnant growth, more key areas seem to be going in the right direction.