10 Best Housing Markets Right Now

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Thanks to 2012, the year that housing turned the corner, we finally saw home values begin to climb for the first time in years. And now we're seeing them take off. According to Zillow, home values rose 5.8 percent across the country between February 2012 and February 2013, but some local markets are doing much better than the rest of the nation. Using this data, 24/7 Wall St. determined the 10 best housing markets where home values rose the most between the first quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.

Zillow also provided data regarding expected growth from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, the number of homes sold in February, as well as the change in the number of homes sold from a year earlier. Unemployment rates -- which went down in all of the top 10 areas -- as of February 2013 were taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data on when home prices peaked and the percentage decline since that time was based on median home value from Fiserv. These are the 10 hottest markets in the country right now.

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10 Hottest Housing Markets Right Now
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10 Best Housing Markets Right Now

Change in home value: 13.1%
Current home value: $234,200
Bottom in home value: Q2 2011
Forecast change in home value: 3.1%

The city experienced robust growth in 2012, and this is likely to continue, according to Zillow. However, between 2013 and 2014, home values are expected to rise only an additional 3.1%, by far the smallest growth of any housing market on this list. The Denver market did not fall as hard as other areas during the housing collapse. Between the peak in the first quarter of 2006 and the third quarter of 2012, Denver home prices only fell 5.4%. This February, more than 5,000 homes sold -- an increase of 27% from the same month last year.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Change in home value: 13.1%
Current home value: $84,700
Bottom in home value: Q3 2011
Forecast change in home value: 4.4%

In recent years, Detroit has been hit by a steep decline in home prices, as well as continued contraction in the automobile industry. As of the first quarter of 2013, the average home value in the Detroit area was just $84,700, by far the lowest of all the large metro areas in the country measured by Zillow. Investor purchases helped push home values higher, although not as much as they did in many cities in California, Gudell said. Detroit continues to suffer from high unemployment. The area’s unemployment rate was 11.3% in February, down just slightly from 11.5% a year ago.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Change in home value: 14.9%
Current home value: $439,400
Bottom in home value: Q1 2012
Forecast change in home value: 11.1%

In addition to the nearly 15% growth already experienced in the past year, home values are expected to rise an additional 11% next year. The growth in the housing market in California has led to growth in employment as well. The unemployment rate in the Los Angeles metropolitan area was 10.3%, a significant improvement from the 11.6% rate a year ago. Between February 2012 and February 2013, the number of people employed in construction rose 7.1%, an indicator of an improving housing market.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Change in home value: 16.3%
Current home value: $210,100
Bottom in home value: Q1 2012
Forecast change in home value: 17.2%

Like many parts of California, the Riverside metropolitan area is recovering from the housing bubble burst. Home values are expected to jump 17.2% in the coming year, more than any other large city in the United States that Zillow considered. Like all other metro areas on this list, the unemployment rate in the Riverside area has fallen also, although it remains comparatively high. The 10.8% unemployment rate in February was 1.8 percentage points lower than it was in the same month of 2012.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Change in home value: 17.1%
Current home value: $396,800
Bottom in home value: Q1 2012
Forecast change in home value: 8.8%

Between the market peak in the first quarter of 2006 and the third quarter of 2012, home prices fell 37%. But now home values have rebounded, increasing 17.1% from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013. This included a 5.5% increase in the past quarter alone. There were 3,769 home sales in February in the San Diego housing area, an increase of nearly 5% from the same month in 2012. The unemployment rate in San Diego was 8% in February, a significant improvement over the 9.4% back in 2012.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Change in home value: 20.1%
Current home value: $241,600
Bottom in home value: Q1 2012
Forecast change in home value: 15.6%

Home prices in Sacramento peaked in the fourth quarter of 2005, earlier than most metropolitan areas. Between the peak and the third quarter of 2012, home prices fell a painful 51.5%, which was among the largest drops in the entire country. Between the first quarter of 2013 and the same quarter in 2014, home values are expected to rise an additional 15.6%, more than any of the other largest 30 housing markets except for Riverside. The metro area’s unemployment rate of 9.6% as of February was still considerably higher than the national rate of 7.7%.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Change in home value: 21.4%
Current home value: $563,200
Bottom in home value: Q1 2012
Forecast change in home value: 10.5%

San Francisco’s home values rose by 21% last year, with 6.4% growth between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013. This was among the largest quarterly increases of all large metro areas in the country. The median home value in San Francisco was $563,200 as of the first quarter of 2013. And the growth in home values is expected to continue -- by an additional 10.5% in the next year. The unemployment rate in the San Francisco metropolitan area was 6% in February, a significant drop from the 7.5% in the same month last year.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Change in home value: 22.1%
Current home value: $676,100
Bottom in home value: Q3 2009
Forecast change in home value: 9.7%

The housing market in the San Jose metropolitan area bottomed out in the second quarter of 2009, significantly earlier than the other metro areas on this list. Since then, home prices have increased a great deal. As of the first quarter of this year, San Jose’s median home value of $676,100 was more than any of the other largest metro areas in the country. The unemployment rate in the San Jose area has declined from 9.2% in February 2012 to just 7.6% in the first month of 2013. Construction jobs in the San Jose area grew by 12.3% from February 2012 to February 2013, likely a positive sign for the local housing market.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Change in home value: 22.3%
Current home value: $138,800
Bottom in home value: Q1 2012
Forecast change in home value: 7.5%

Las Vegas’s housing market has made a rapid comeback, with home values rising more than 7% in the most recent quarter alone. While values are on the rise again, it may take some time for the area to return to prerecession levels. Between the peak in the first quarter of 2006 and the third quarter of 2012, home prices plunged a whopping 59%, more than all but five other metro areas out of the 339 measured by Fiserv. As the housing market has started to rebound, jobs have come back as well. Las Vegas’s unemployment rate of 9.8% as of February -- while still considerably higher than the national rate -- was a significant improvement from the 12.1% unemployed in the same month of 2012 and the high of 14.6% back in July 2010.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Change in home value: 24.0%
Current home value: $165,600
Bottom in home value: Q3 2011
Forecast change in home value: 10.6%

No other metropolitan area’s housing market has grown faster than Phoenix, where home values rose 24% over the past year. The growth is expected to continue as well. Between 2013 and 2014, home values are projected to rise an additional 10.6%. The unemployment rate in the Phoenix metro area was just 6.7% in February 2013, down a percentage point from the same month in 2012. Notably, construction jobs were up 8.2% from the previous year, likely an indicator of a more robust housing market.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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