NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- The national housing market seems to be returning to normal -- which means there really is no national housing market.
"Real estate has always been local, but as we continue to put the housing recession further in the rearview mirror, the largely uniform performance of local markets is also fading," said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, the home listing and information firm.
Firms such as Zillow produce a steady stream of nationwide data, showing, for instance, that price gains, 6.6% for the year ending in August, have been slowing. Zillow predicts an average increase of only 3.1% over the next 12 months, a return to average after the sharp bounce that followed the housing bust.
But the nationwide figures are only the roughest gauge of what's happening in housing, used only because it's too cumbersome to look at each local market individually.