SEATTLE—The National Association of Realtorsmay be reporting that growth in home prices—including for-saleapartments along with single-family houses—moderated last month,but Zillow is taking a long-term view. Within thenext year, Seattle-based Zillow predicts, home values in more than1,000 US communities will be higher than ever.

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Although home values nationwide are still 13.5% below their 2007peak, Zillow says the housing recession is “almost entirely in therearview mirror” in 1,080 of the more than 8,700 cities and townsit covers. They're expected to surpass their pre-recession peaks bythe first quarter of 2015, if they haven't done so already.

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“This is a remarkable milestone coming only two and a half yearsafter the end of the worst housing recession since the GreatDepression, and is a testament to just how robust this housingrecovery has been," says Stan Humphries, Zillow'schief economist. “So far, this steady appreciation has not createdaffordability issues in the majority of places. But there are ahandful of markets where affordability is again a challenge, evenwith mortgage interest rates incredibly low.”

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Those markets include the major California cities: in SanFrancisco, Los Angeles, San Jose and San Diego, the share ofresidents' incomes currently devoted to monthly mortgage paymentsexceeds historic norms, Zillow says. Not surprisingly, the Westalso saw the highest year-over-year appreciation in median homeprices, according to the Washington, DC-based NAR: 12.6%, comparedto 3.2% in the Northeast, 5.9% in the Midwest and 6.7% in theSouth. The region also saw the steepest Y-O-Y decline in homesales: 13.4%, NAR says.

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Among the more than 300 metro areas covered by Zillow, homevalues in 60 have already exceeded their pre-recession peaks or areexpected to do so in the next year. They include Dallas, Houston,Denver, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, San Jose and Austin.

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NAR on Tuesday reported that sales of existing homes creptdownward by 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59million in March from 4.60 million in February. The figure is also7.5% below the 4.96-million-unit pace the year prior. Last month'ssales volume remained the slowest since July 2012, when it was also4.59 million.

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“There really should be stronger levels of home sales given ourpopulation growth,” says Lawrence Yun, chiefeconomist at NAR. “In contrast, price growth is rising faster thanhistorical norms because of inventory shortages.”

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Sales of single-family homes in March were unchanged from theprior month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.04 million,while the median existing single-family home price was $198,200 inMarch, up 7.4% from a year ago. In the multifamily arena, existingcondominium and co-op sales declined 1.8% to an annual rate of550,000 units in March from 560,000 in February. The medianexisting condo price was $200,800 in March, up 11.6% from March'13.

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In the area of rentals, Zillow says that rents rose 2.7% Y-O-Yin the first quarter and 0.9% compared to the Q4 '13. US rents haverisen year-over-year for more than two years running, according toZillow.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.