5 biggest housing comebacks of 2013

Dec 30, 2013
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We would all prefer to forget the U.S. housing market crash. Six years later, it has grown more distant as the market continues to recover from record foreclosures and spiraling home prices. In October, permits for future home construction rose to their highest rate in nearly five-and-a-half years; home prices nationwide rose 12.5% in October from a year earlier (by comparison, they grew by 6% in 2012). Some markets have recovered more than others, though. Here's a look at the five strongest recoveries of 2013, thanks to data from Trulia, Zillow, and other housing experts.

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San Francisco

This tech hub has lured some of the best and brightest, some of whom are now making million-dollar salaries. Home prices in San Francisco declined by about 35% between 2005 and 2011, but prices have risen rapidly since then. In September, prices soared 25.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Though prices haven't fully recovered, homes in San Francisco are among the most expensive in the country, and builders are looking to cash in. The area is on track to have almost twice as many building permits filed this year as it has had in previous years, says Jed Kolko, economist with Trulia, an online real estate website.

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Austin

Texas was not hit as hard as others when the housing market crashed, but parts of the state have undergone the strongest recoveries, just the same -- namely, Austin.

Known as "Silicon Hills," the area is home to Dell and other tech companies that have helped support its growing housing market. Sales in central Texas have risen 8% during the past year. And, unlike San Francisco, the Austin area is still relatively affordable. About half of all homes for sale in Austin are within reach of middle income Americans, compared to 14% in San Francisco, according to Trulia.

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Orange County, Calif.

The land of sun and surf and Real Housewives suffered record foreclosures just four years ago, but home prices today are up 30% from their lows. The market certainly has its problems, however. Because the recession essentially halted home construction for several years, Orange County is dealing with a shrinking pool of homes for sale at all price points, especially under $500,000. That can surely push prices higher -- a common story throughout California that has both helped and hurt its housing market.

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Houston

They say everything is bigger in Texas, the housing recovery included. Overall, the state was not hurt as badly as other regions. And so its recovery was much swifter than the rest of the country, thanks largely to its energy industry. Houston was the first major metro region to regain all the jobs it lost in the recession, and its housing market has benefited from the jobs growth. Median home prices rose 8.9% in October from a year earlier, to $177,500, and the average price hit $239,773, up 7.9% during the same period.

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Denver

Over the summer, home prices in the Mile-High City surpassed pre-recession highs. Growth in an array of industries led by energy and technology has fueled Denver's economy, which, in turn, helped strengthen its housing market.

In May, a widely watched index that tracks the health of the U.S. housing market showed Denver's home price index level was 140.98% higher than it was in its benchmark month -- close to its previous level of 140.28% from August 2006. It joined Dallas in one of the first instances of any city reaching such new heights.

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