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Seattle Leads Rising Housing Market

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- There has been no shortage of media reports showing at least a modest recovery in the U.S. housing sector. (TheStreet has the goods here and here.)

But now the data are really getting specific, with Clear Capital, a Truckee, Calif.-based real estate analysis firm, pinpointing the fastest-growing U.S. housing markets.

Using data compiled through December, Clear Capital says the market as a whole "finished the year strong" and should see "moderate growth" in 2013 as more homebuyers get priced out of a slowly but steadily rising market. The company's home data index says home appreciation gains should be about half as strong as 2012.

"Overall the housing recovery still shows evidence of pushing ahead, as indicated by our December home price trends and 2013 forecasts," says Alex Villacorta, director of research at Clear Capital. "Quarterly home prices mostly mirrored those of last month and suggest that some buyers took pause in the initial winter months. Yet, looking back over 2012, national yearly price gains of 4.9% are still strong."

"But as it stands now, home prices have continued to show resiliency by posting their largest yearly gain in nearly two and a half years," Villacorta says.

U.S. home prices rose, on a year-to-year basis, by 4.9% in 2012. Clear Capital says home prices will appreciate by another 2.1% in 2013 (building off that higher "floor" that Villacorta cites above), as the U.S. housing sector enters its second year of significant recovery.

Even though at first blush the Clear Capital data seem to show slower growth in 2013, there could be a good reason for that -- one that shows the housing market really is in full recovery mode: "Our current gains are off market lows at the start of the year; 2013 gains will be measured against a higher price floor after a full year of recovery," Villacorta says.

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