CoreLogic is reporting that its July home price index was up 3.8 percent from July 2011 — that’s the biggest increase since 2006, and July is the fifth consecutive month with an increase. So good news there.

This is interesting: When you take distressed sales out of the mix, home prices were up more — 4.3 percent from July to July.

It seems that distressed sales are having a greater influence on prices in 2012 than they were in 2011.

That means one of two things: Either there are more short sales and REOs this year than last, or the prices of those distressed homes are noticeably lower (or both).

You might think that it must be the former — that the foreclosure pipeline is back in action, so we’re seeing more of those on the market. But foreclosures have been dropping dramatically in Virginia, while short sales have been rising slightly.

So it would seem that the prices of distressed homes are significantly lower than those of ‘regular’ homes; they aren’t keeping pace with the rest of the market improvement.

If that trend continues — distressed sales being priced lower and lower compared to the rest of the market — it’s going to start acting like an anchor on the recovery. It’s something worth keeping an eye on.

The good news is that less and less of that distressed share comes from foreclosures, which typically are priced lower than short sales. (Not to mention that many of those REOs are falling into disrepair.) So the price disparity might not widen much further.