Western States Help Home Prices Rise 10.2% in February

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Home prices rose 10.2% in February on a year-on-year basis, the biggest annual increase since March 2006, according to the latest report from CoreLogic.

CoreLogic's Home Price Index, which includes distressed sales, rose 0.5% in February over January 2013, marking its 12th consecutive monthly increase.

Excluding distressed sales, which includes foreclosure sales and short sales that sell at a deep discount to the market, home prices rose 10.1% in February on a year-on-year basis and 1.5% on a month-on-month basis.

CoreLogic's Pending Home Price Index, which is a leading indicator, shows March 2013 home prices including distressed sales are poised to rise another 10.2% on a year-on-year basis and 1.2% on a month-on-month basis.

Home prices have been rising sharply nationwide on the back of a shortage of housing inventory and resurgent demand. The tight inventory situation has been so acute that many analysts have raised their home price forecasts for 2013.

Noted housing analyst Ivy Zelman, who called both the housing peak and the bottom, now predicts home prices will rise 9% in 2013, sharply up from her earlier forecast of 5%. The analyst says this is the most bullish she has been on housing in her career and that "you will kick yourself if you don't buy a home now."

Of the top 100 core-based statistical areas measured by population, 96 were showing year-over-year increases in February, up from 94 in January.

Still, housing is local and it is worth noting that most of the rise in home prices has been driven by the Western states. CoreLogic's chief economist Mark Fleming notes that eight of the top 10 highest appreciating markets are in California, with Phoenix and Las Vegas rounding the list.

Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (up 19.3 %), Arizona (up 18.6%), California (up 15.3%), Hawaii (up 14.6 %) and Idaho (up 13.5 %).

-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York.

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