Zillow has calculated the break-even horizon down to the ZIP code level. In some cities, the time frame varies by 10 years.
The zigzag numbers for single-family construction and permits are tracking the zigzag nature of the housing-market recovery.
Homes are still undervalued in 91 of the top 100 metro areas, according to Trulia's analysis. Several factors signal a bubble is not imminent.
Nearly half the experts polled by Zillow see the possibility of a new housing bubble. Individual predictions for the next three years range from a 43.3% increase to a 5.1% decrease.
Analysts predict the percentage of Americans who own their home will continue to drop this year. The rate hit a peak of 69.2% in 2004.
The latest Case-Shiller numbers show double-digit increases in the past year in many cities, but prices are still down about 30% from the peak and more in some areas.
The lack of homes for sale is holding back any significant increase in contracts, but the NAR predicts home sales this year will be 6.5% to 7% above last year.
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.