RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And the latest housing numbers show that home sales for 2013 reached their strongest level since before the housing crash. Home prices are on the rise too.
As NPR's Chris Arnold reports, the new study predicts that going forward, prices will be up, down or sideways, depending on where you live.
CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Home prices nationally were up about 11 percent last year, according to one major index. But that's across the country. And most people probably don't care about that. They want to know what prices are going to be doing in their area. Yeah, that's what MIT housing economist William Wheaton is forecasting for about 70 different U.S. metro areas.
WILLIAM WHEATON: Each one of them going forward is likely to experience very different things.
ARNOLD: Wheaton says the housing crash has made it very hard to tell where prices are going to go next.
WHEATON: It's completely dislodged prices from their long run trend.
ARNOLD: So Wheaton is using a bunch of different metrics to try to correct for that, city by city, and forecast where prices will be in 2020. And he's been surprised by how different the results are for the different areas.
WHEATON: There's just like these huge differences. San Francisco, you're going to be 45 percent ahead of where you were in '07.
Or you double your money if you bought at the bottom a year ago. Pittsburgh and Minneapolis are going to do well, he says, compared to the peak in '07. But if you bought in Las Vegas at the peak.
You're never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever going to get back to 2007.
ARNOLD: So if you bought in 2007, just throw the keys down...
WHEATON: Just throw your keys away. You're never, you're never, never, never, never going to get your equity back.
ARNOLD: Well, if you like your house, you shouldn't, of course, actually throw your keys away. William Wheaton is posting his full report on his website later today.
Chris Arnold, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.