The Relationship Between the National Housing Market and Local Markets Is Breaking Down—and Opportunities Are Cropping Up for Well-Heeled Buyers. …Confusing though the various statistics may be, they do point to one overarching conclusion: Now is a good time for upper-income buyers in most markets to start looking. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Is housing headed for a dreaded double-dip? Or are signs finally pointing to a long-awaited rally? Despite the glum statistics recently, well-heeled buyers in many markets should feel comfortable betting on the latter. Home prices nationwide in December were down more than 31% from their 2006 peak, according to the latest Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, including a 4.1% fall in 2010. And some economists see more weakness ahead, based on the so-called shadow inventory of foreclosures that haven’t yet been put up for sale. But the national housing market is merely a collection of local markets. And while those markets have moved together to an unusual degree during the past 15 years or so, new data show that the pattern is changing—and that many markets are safer now than they have been in years.
By M.P. McQueen, Feb. 26, 2011 WSJ

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02/26/11 WSJ