) -- Some of the nation's hardest-hit housing markets are beginning to turn around as lower unemployment, a stabilizing foreclosure market and lots of bargain hunters help things rebound.
"We continue to see signs of stabilization and recovery on the local level throughout the country," says Steve Berkowitz of
, publisher of the National Association of Realtors' official Realtor.com property-listing site. "By all indications, the 2012 housing market is unfolding as we expected, and we're encouraged with the progress local markets are making."
Berkowitz says several markets around the country are firming as consumers get jobs, foreclosure rates drop and a combination of househunters and real estate investors move in.
He says February's $25 billion settlement between regulators and the nation's five largest banks over housing-boom excesses should also clarify how many U.S. homes will ultimately hit the foreclosure market.
"People who are looking to buy homes -- especially first-time homebuyers -- want to see stability in the marketplace," Berkowitz says. "Knowing what a market's foreclosure inventory will be adds to that 'flavor' of stability."
Here's a look at Realtor.com's top five "Turnaround Cities" for homebuyers.
The markets below all saw rising asking prices, shorter days on the market and declining inventories of unsold homes over the past year on Realtor.com. Local jobless rates are as of March, while all other figures are for the first quarter as a whole.