NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Existing-homes sales declined for the third consecutive month while median U.S. home values continue to show strong year-over-year growth, real estate experts say.

"Our forecast call for another 3.8% appreciation over the next year," said Svenja Gudell, senior economist at Zillow.com. "I think will see them fall a little bit before they start to rise again."

The recent slowdown was driven in a large part by rising mortgage rates and higher home values with a shortage of inventory in some parts of the country, said Gudell.

The national median home price in the U.S., especially for non-remodeled homes, is priced at around $163,000, according to Zillow's housing market data based on a wide cross-section of data from various markets.

The median existing single-family home price is listed slightly higher by the National Realtors Association at $196,300, based on November sales -- up by 9.4% from a year ago.

A typical first-time buyer purchases a 1,670 square-foot home costing $170,000, according to the Realtors' Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report.

"While the median-income family in many areas will still be well positioned to buy a home in 2014, income is barely budging given growth in consumer prices," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors in a press statement. "Rising prices and higher interest rates have taken a bite out of housing affordability."

Half of all the markets in the U.S. are most likely in the bucket of being cheaper than the national median, Gudell said.

"Chicago is still well priced at $171,000, Miami is extremely affordable and Detroit, of course, has an immense amount of home value and is very cheap right now at $96,000," said the Zillow economist.

Take a look at what you get for you money from Sacramento to Nashville.

Note: Properties were on the market and listed as available at the time of publication in December 2013, unless noted otherwise.

Sacramento
Size: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,749 square feet
Price: $174,500

Sacramento had some of the strongest increases in listing price from a year ago, according to data from the National Realtors Association.

Home value appreciation in Sacramento was up 34% compared to 35% in San Francisco year-over-year.

"It's actually come to such a point that these rates of appreciation are not sustainable anymore -- they just have to slow down," said Gudell.

The Californian city was hit heavily by the 2008 housing bubble and home values in the Central Valley metropolis are slowly gaining some traction.

"Affordability currently is still not a huge issue in Sacramento whereas it is in San Francisco," Gudell said.

Decatur, Ill.
Size: 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2,100 square feet
Price: $163,900

Decatur, Ill., the "Soybean Capital of the World," is one of Illinois's largest cities with a metropolitan area population of 114,749 -- it's also one of the most affordable cities in the U.S.

A typical home in Decatur, Ill. sells at $91,000. The Midwestern city was listed by the Realtor's quarterly report as one of the top five most affordable metro areas in the U.S. Other affordable cities include Toledo, Ohio, with a median single-family price of $87,500; Rockford, Ill., at $88,900; Ocala Fla., $103,600; and Topeka, Kan., with a median price of $106,900.

Phoenix
Size: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,432 square feet
Price: $169, 900

The median home value in Phoenix is $160,400, up by 16.3%, according to Zillow. The Seattle-based online real estate date site predicts the Valley's housing market will rise another 5.1% in 2014.

Phoenix, one of the markets hit the hardest during the housing crash, has been slow to recover. Most of the investor frenzy from the last two years began to taper off after mortgage rates increased, according to local real estate experts.

"Homes that sold for $250,000 before the crash sell at 160,000 or $170,000 now," said realtor Charles Powell, who has been selling homes in Phoenix for the last three years. "There are a lot short sales."

The market in Phoenix has been cooling since July and will continue to lose momentum, according to a December report released by the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at Arizona State University.

"We also anticipate a much slower rate of price appreciation in 2014 than the furious pace we have witnessed over the last two years," said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice.

Pittsburgh
Size: 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1,196 square feet
Price: $159,900

The "Steel City" currently stands at 111,400 for its median home value -- year-to-year the market is up by 12.1%.

"Pittsburgh certainly hasn't been one of the markets that has seen an extreme amount of appreciation - it wasn't one of the coastal markets like Miami or San Francisco which have seen extreme appreciation," Gudell said. "They were a lot more subdued in their turnaround."

Zillow listed Pittsburgh as the seventh healthiest housing markets in the U.S. in a December survey which compares data for the country's top 30 largest metropolitan markets.

Nashville
Size: 1,644 square feet
Price: $165,000

The housing market in Nashville tumbled in 2008 but has started to climb its way back to pre-recession sales and prices.

"We're now slowing climbing up the same height that we were in 2006," said local real estate agent Erin Taylor who has been selling homes in Music City for seven years. "The market is definitely back."

A typical house in the Music City metropolitan area, home to 1.5 million residents, sells at $173,600, according to Zillow's local market statistics. Similar to other markets around the country, Nashville is low on inventory and that's stimulating demand.

"The interest rates have gone up a little bit, but they're still at record lows, " Taylor said. "I'm predicting that 2014 will be a good year."

--Written by Farran Powell for MainStreet