) -- America's most-painful housing bust in history appears to be history itself -- and here's a look at five markets that are leading the way in today's nascent rebound.
"If you're looking for a strong market that's going to perform well going forward, I think you'll do well in any of these," says Daren Blomquist of market watcher
, which recently named the top
Markets Leading the Housing Recovery
RealtyTrac compiled its list by analyzing 100 of America's largest housing markets for seven factors, from how many homes institutional investors are buying to how high prices have rebounded from the bust's depths.
Blomquist says the locales at the top of the rankings either never had big foreclosure problems or have managed to clear most distressed properties out of their housing "pipelines."
Many winners are also in or near California's booming Silicon Valley or -- more surprisingly -- upstate New York.
Blomquist says that while New York's western and central region have long had reputations for sluggish economies, upstate cities that made RealtyTrac's list actually have lower jobless rates than the U.S. average. "Even though these cities may not have robust economies, their unemployment levels are performing better than the nation's," he says.
Click below to check out the five metro areas that scored the best on RealtyTrac's rankings. (A score of 100 equals the national average for all factors analyzed.)
All figures are as of June 30 and cover the 100 most-populous U.S. metro areas, except for cities in states where public property records don't include sale prices.
Home-price numbers refer to median sale prices for houses, condos and townhouses, while "underwater" levels refer to how many homeowners whose properties aren't paid off owe more on their mortgages than their residences are worth.
Fifth place: San Francisco
163.9 (100 = U.S. average)
A shortage of buildable land, a surplus of people who want to live there and lots of jobs in nearby Silicon Valley are all helping San Francisco's housing market recover soundly.
"San Francisco is a consistently well-performing market because it's got limited space to build and it's a very highly desirable location," Blomquist says.
The metro area's $550,000 median home price is still well below a $702,000 peak hit in 2007, but has risen 96% -- the biggest percentage gain for any city studied -- after bottoming out at $280,000 in 2009.
Foreclosure filings have also tumbled 88% from their worst levels, while just 17% of San Francisco homeowners are "underwater." That's well below America's 26% underwater rate nationwide.
San Francisco's 6.5% jobless rate is also more than one percentage point below the national average, which stood at 7.6% as of June.