While still too early in the year to make bold predictions, Truckee-based Clear Capital, a real estate valuation firm, says that there is a slight uptick in home prices – the first since mid-August 2010. The Clear Capital spokesman cited that this is the first “non-incentivized” change in prices since the economic downturn began. 

Based on sales transactions through the end of January, the company’s report says “national home prices have turned the corner.” Clear Capital adds that this observed change in prices is especially meaningful as the first months of the year are typically affected by the seasonal slowdown in sales activity.

Additionally, Clear Capital cites that one reason for the increase in prices might be the slowing rate of sale of REO properties.  According to the company’s latest report, the most recent rolling quarter for REO saturation has slowed considerably after gaining 3.2 percent during Q3 2010, with national REO rates only climbing 1.4 percent.

“A decrease in REO saturation indicates that an increasing proportion of fair market transactions are occurring, and as the level of distressed transactions decrease, prices tend to increase since the overall market value for an area is less affected by distressed comparable sales,” Clear Capital explained.