I usually shy away from reporting quarter-to-quarter (or month-to-month) numbers, because they can often be misleading; annual changes are more important to watch.

Sometimes, though, quarter changes are worth mentioning.

In its August 2012 Economic & Housing Market Outlook, Freddie Mac found that prices were up (nationwide) 4.8% in the second quarter. What’s notable about that is that it’s the largest quarter-to-quarter jump of the GSE’s House Price Index in eight years.

Even better, the index is up a full percent from 2011 — and that’s the largest annual jump in six years.

And even better, says Fred (can I call you Fred?), “the improvement was relatively broad-based:

In fact, 34 states and the District of Columbia posted higher home values during the 12 months through June 2012, the largest number of states registering positive annual appreciation since April 2007. (Emphasis mine.)

Ah, but what about all the shadow inventory — foreclosures and seriously delinquent loans — poised on the sidelines, ready to flood the market with cheap REOs and drive prices back down?

Freddie doesn’t see it as all that big a problem because the vacancy rate is low. In other words, there isn’t a glut of excess inventory in the market (at least, not in most places),

That means REO homes “are not competing with an oversized vacant housing inventory,” and thus can sell for higher prices and have less of an effect.

Put another way, there’s enough demand right now that the shadow inventory, if and when it sees the light, won’t have all that much of an effect.

So Freddie sees things continuing to look up: “And even if some local markets continue to be lopsided, the nation as a whole may shortly return to a healthy supply-and-
demand balance.”

Read all about it from Freddie Mac itself.