Home Values Rose 5.9 Percent in 2012

by Tara Steele, AGBeat

According to the fourth quarter Zillow Home Value Index, home values rose 5.9 percent in 2012 to $157,400, and 2.5 percent from the third quarter, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of home values rising.

Zillow forecasts home values will continue to improve, but the high growth rate is likely unsustainable, and the company notes it expects values to rise only another 3.3 percent in 2013, a yearly appreciation rate more in line with historical norms.

“The 5.9 percent annual appreciation rate far exceeded yearly rates of appreciation typically associated with healthy markets and represents the largest annual gain since August, 2006 – near the peak of the housing bubble,” the company reported.

Strong demand and limited inventory fueled improvement

“We expected 2012 to be a good year for housing, and it delivered in spades,” said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries. “Strong demand paired with limited inventory in many markets helped fuel a robust and often rapid recovery in overall home values, good news for homeowners after years of poor performance. We expect this recovery to continue into 2013, but at a more sustainable pace.”

“It’s important to be cautious moving forward,” Humphries added, “even as we celebrate the undeniably positive end to 2012, and be careful that consumers don’t grow to expect such high appreciation as the norm. Buying a home should be a long-term decision, and these swings between a deep housing recession and higher-than-normal appreciation rates can give consumers whiplash and cause some to lose sight of that.”

Regional performance varied

Of the 30 largest metros covered by this report, only Cincinnati and Chicago failed to show annual and quarterly increases in the fourth quarter, and 69 percent of the metros registered annual home value gains in 2012.

The housing market recovery continues to be “uneven,” reports Zillow, as annual home value growth rates varied widely across studied metros, ranging from a 0.2 depreciation in Chicago to a 22.5 percent appreciation in Phoenix over the year.


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