U.S. home values ended 2012 up 5.9% over the end of 2011, marking four consecutive quarters of national home value appreciation, according to new data from Seattle-based Zillow Inc., which forecasts home values will increase by 3.3% this year.
Of the 30 largest metros tracked by Zillow in 2012, only Cincinnati and Chicago failed to show annual and quarterly increases in the fourth quarter. Of the 366 total metro areas analyzed, 254 – or 69% – registered annual home value gains in 2012; 278 metros experienced quarter-over-quarter home value appreciation. Phoenix experienced the largest year-over-year appreciation, with a growth rate of 22.5%.
As home values rose in the fourth quarter, foreclosure activity abated, with 5.22 of every 10,000 homes nationwide facing foreclosure during December 2012. That was down 2.2 homes per 10,000 year-over-year and down 1.2 homes from the previous quarter. Foreclosure resales stood at 12% of the market, down 4% from the end of 2011 and down 0.3% from the third quarter.
In the rental market, national rents fell 0.6% in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter, but ended 2012 up 4.2% year-over-year.
‘It's important to be cautious moving forward, 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," says Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries. "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.’