Good news: According to CoreLogic, a California data company, from March 2009 to March 2010 national home prices rose 1.73 percent.
The number might seem surprising given the country's high rates of foreclosure, mortgage delinquency and unemployment. But the increase in home prices indicates that some housing markets badly wounded by the recession are finally starting to heal.
One key driver in the rise in home sales and home prices was the federal government's $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers and $6,500 tax credit for those changing residences, both of which expired in April. While some have called the program "cost-inefficient" and "open to widespread misuse," others have praised its ability to halt months of price declines, and assuage suffering home-owners.
Home prices, however, often don't tell the entire story. Take San Jose, for example, where a near 20 percent drop in the supply of single-family homes drove home prices up 8.3 percent in the first quarter. The area is still flooded with foreclosures (up 40 percent over last year) and mortgage delinquencies. Add on San Jose's 11.7 unemployment rate -- which a recent Harvard University study called the key factor affecting real-estate recovery -- and San Jose's real estate picture becomes less appealing.
But the following data do offer some encouragement that these housing markets are starting to recover.