Zillow's May Real Estate Market Reports, released today, show national home values rose for the third month in a row, climbing 0.5 percent from April to May to a Zillow Home Value Index of $148,100.
The good news continues at the local level as well: Of the 166 metropolitan areas covered by Zillow, 86 show monthly home-value appreciation. Among the top 30 metros, 23 experienced monthly home-value appreciation. Leading the pack are once again Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Phoenix, which experienced 2.2 percent and 1.9 percent increases from April to May. On an annual basis, the Phoenix metro is approaching double digit increases, reporting a 9 percent rise in home values since May 2011.
It remains important to temper this good news with a reminder that the overhang of negative equity and tightening inventory could alter the long, flat bottom we originally anticipated. Home values continue to decline on an annual basis, falling 0.9 percent from May 2011 to May 2012, though this is the smallest year-over-year decline since October 2007.
Zillow's chief economist, Stan Humphries, explains it further: "It is promising to see consecutive months of national home value increases, especially during a period in which we'd expected more downward pressure due to foreclosures. Attention has now shifted to the tug-of-war situation with inventory, where buyers want to buy but sellers don't want to -- or can't -- sell. This inventory phenomenon, due to both the broader issue of negative equity that is keeping people in their homes and to rational seller behavior at a market bottom, will make for a more volatile housing recovery than what we initially expected."
Average sale price: $355,604
Average foreclosure discount: 28.17%
The quintessential California beach town, Santa Cruz is located about 75 miles south of San Francisco. It is comfortably situated between thickly wooded mountains and clean sandy beaches. The Santa Cruz boardwalk entertains children and adults alike: It has an amusement park complete with roller coaster, arcades, mini-golf, bowling, shopping and outdoor concerts.
Average sale price: $237,405
Average foreclosure discount: 30.34%
The Town of Barnstable is comprised of several famous Cape Cod villages, including Hyannis. It's also close to the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Hyannis has a large natural harbor and is the largest recreational boating port on Cape Cod. The Kennedy Compound is also located in Barnstable, in the village of Hyannis Port.
Average sale price: $345,799
Average foreclosure discount: 30.56%
Honolulu, Hawaii's capital located on the island of Oahu, offers top quality surfing, famous Waikiki Beach and pristine hiking trails. It also has an exemplary public transportation system, which connects its world class shops and restaurants to its relaxing beaches.
Average sale price: $161,819
Average foreclosure discount: 30.38%
Since Las Vegas isn't on the beach, your best bet for being able to gamble and ride waves is Atlantic City, N.J. Besides its familiar street names (see: Monopoly), the city has a world famous boardwalk lined with casinos, shops, restaurants and an amusement park.
Average sale price: $274,077
Average foreclosure discount: 38.80%
After a long day enjoying the sunny beaches or hiking in majestic mountains, spend the night tasting some of the finest California wines in Santa Barbara's wine country. The city also has a temperate climate year-round, so it is a great place to live if you want to avoid snowy winters and scorching summers.
Average sale price: $156,148
Average foreclosure discount: 40.43%
Marco Island has miles of white-sand beaches and beautiful year-round weather. Naples, just north of Marco Island, also offers white sand beaches and has world class golf courses and exciting outdoor activities. Naples is also close to Everglades National Park.
Average sale price: $78,851
Average foreclosure discount: 44.38%
Texas has beaches, too! Miles of the Gulf of Mexico shoreline extend across Corpus Christi, where there are plenty of sites and attractions. Visit the U.S.S. Lexington Museum or the Texas State Aquarium. For more outdoor adventures, check out Mustang Island State Park, where you can enjoy fishing, bonfires, kayaking and camping.
Average sale price: $93,188
Average foreclosure discount: 45.11%
Another outdoorsy paradise, Vero Beach offers -- not surprisingly -- miles of beaches and is home to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Reserve. Enjoy airboat tours, scuba diving, snorkeling and many other water and beach sports.