Research suggests that home values have more effect on the economy than the stock market does -- and the economy is liking the recovery it sees so far.
The Southwest and Southeast continue to lead the recovery, but the Northeast and parts of the Midwest are lagging, according to the latest Case-Shiller data.
Prices rose 5.9% nationwide last year, but this year's appreciation is likely to be half that, the real-estate portal projects. Performance will vary vastly by city.
Pent-up demand is driving sales, but inventory was down 21.6% for the year. Sales in 2012 were the highest since 2007.
While some metro areas that showed price declines last year reported double-digit increases this year, the number of cities where prices are falling is increasing.
Homebuilders' index added more cities for a fifth straight month of increase, with improving markets in 48 states. Los Angeles and Chicago joined the list this time.
The number of homes for sale continues to fall, and the median price continues to rise. Distressed sales are making up a smaller proportion of deals.
Listing prices are up 35% in Sacramento and down 10.7% in Peoria, a new report says. And the number of cities reporting higher prices is dropping.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.