RealtyTrac came in with the highest report of year-over-year price increases we have seen thus far this year with their estimate of a 15 percent gain in November 2014 compared to one year earlier.  The company said that the median price of a single family home and/or condo sold in the U.S. during the month was $190,000, unchanged from October but markedly higher than annual estimates from other sources.  While all were reporting on October data, annual increases estimated by the National Association of Realtors, CoreLogic, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the three S&P Dow Jones Case-Shiller indices all ranged between 4.5 to 6.1 percent. 



RealtyTrac estimated the median price of distressed properties, those either in the process of foreclosure or in bank-owned inventories (REO) at $128,625, the highest price since December 2009 but still 35 percent below the median price of non-distress properties at $199,000.  RealtyTrac put the annual increase for distressed properties at 18 percent while non-distressed properties gained 14 percent. 

"As the price of distressed properties reaches a new high the pool of investor activity that has been fueling the housing recovery may dry up," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "However, 20 states still saw annual decreases in distressed property prices so we will continue to see a fragmented recovery as investors move from once hot markets such as Phoenix, Atlanta and many California markets and into markets such as Charlotte, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas and Oklahoma City.

"Thankfully, the increase in first time homebuyers in November (31 percent according to NAR) helped push home prices up slightly with home appreciation on average 6 percent among all metro areas with a population of 500,000 or more," Blomquist added. "We saw strong price appreciation in Rust Belt cities like Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago contrasted with single-digit price appreciation in many coastal California markets, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and the District of Columbia."

According to the company's numbers the median price of all homes has recovered by about 35 percent from the trough that prices reached in March 2012 of $141,000.  Prices however are still well below the August 2006 peak of $237,537.     

The share of homes priced over $200,000 took market share away from homes in the lower price range in November.  The biggest increase was in the percentage of homes in the one half to one million dollar range which increased by 20 percent while sales of homes priced over $1 million were up 15 percent. 

Home price appreciation accelerated in 42 of the 102 (41 percent) metro areas nationwide with a population of half a million or more and with sufficient home price data. Among these areas the biggest annual increase in median sales price were Detroit (+32 percent), Toledo (+23 percent), Dayton, Ohio (+20 percent), and Modesto, California and Lakeland, Florida which were both up 18 percent.

The share of sales accounted for by distressed properties is slowly decreasing, down from 14.8 percent in November 2013 and 13.7 percent in October to a 12.6 percent share in November.  Sales of bank-owned real estate accounted for 7.8 percent of all sales and sales of properties in foreclosure (usually short sales) for 3.4 percent.  Las Vegas had the highest share of distressed sales at 36.3 percent followed by Stockton, California (27.6 percent), Miami (26.9 percent), Jacksonville, Florida (25.1 percent) and Modesto, California (25.1 percent.).

While only a marginal factor, some properties continue to sell at foreclosure auction.  Such sales accounted for 1.4 percent of residential property sales in November compared to 1.3 percent in October and 0.9 percent one year ago.