Indicating the strength of the home price recovery, asking prices rose 0.3 percent quarter-over-quarter in January, despite the fact that prices typically decline during the winter months, according to Trulia’s Price Monitor Report. Seasonally adjusted, prices rose 2.2 percent quarter-over-quarter. Moreover, prices rose 0.9 percent month-over-month, the highest monthly gain since the price recovery began. Year-over-year prices rose 5.9 percent; excluding foreclosures, prices rose 6.5 percent. (See our Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, and Northstar stats)

Healthy housing markets are defined by strong job growth, low vacancy rates, and low foreclosure inventory. In “booming” markets such as San Francisco and Seattle, rising asking prices are supported by strong job growth and are unthreatened by future foreclosures. However, investor-fueled price increases in “rebounding” markets like Phoenix and Las Vegas are at risk from slow job growth, high vacancies, or future foreclosures. At the other end of the spectrum, healthy markets without dramatic price gains, such as Houston, will continue to hum along after avoiding the worst of the housing bubble and bust. Meanwhile, markets like Chicago continue to struggle without strong market fundamentals or big price gains.