In a Monday report, the National Association of Realtors, or NAR, reported that in the fourth quarter of 2012, U.S. median home prices rose at the highest year-over-year rate since 2005. The 10% jump, which saw the national median single-family home go from $162,600 to $178,900, is the most pronounced uptick since the 13.6% increase in the fourth quarter of 2005. The NAR explains that median prices -- the level at which half of all sales are above that price point and half are below it -- are more representative than mean or average prices because they can be skewed by a small number of very high-priced properties.

Overall, the report supports other recent housing data that emphasizes an improving real estate market. NAR notes that foreclosures and short sales accounted for 23% of sales in the fourth quarter, down from the 30% they accounted for a year before. NAR's President Gary Thomas even went so far as to say that affordability conditions in the housing market were "the highest on record in 2012."

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