Trying to determine the health and direction of the housing market is no easy task, considering the veritable mountain of data out there all sorts of things. Fortunately, some reliable data-crunching is available on the Internet. One of the good ones can be found on Zillow.com, specifically the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI).

At the national level, Zillow's Home Value Index is determined using data derived from more than 80 million homes, with locations in about 3,000 of the nation's counties, including more than 400 core statistical areas. The index is primarily focused on a specific geographic location and articulated using dollars.

The Zillow Home Value Index was the benchmark used to determine that the housing market in United States had hit its bottom in terms of home values in July, 2012. This information, which on the surface might look like bad news, is actually good news because it was determined after the Zillow Home Value Index began – finally – to rise. This is the first time since 2007 that the index has shown an upwardly mobile trend!

Zillow released information and statistical data on this elevation in the data via its Real Estate Market Reports, which described a 0.2 percent rise in the value of homes in the United States that had occurred over four consecutive months. Zillow's Real Estate Market Reports aggregates data collected from a variety of public resources and through several different providers of relevant data. It has employed a number of these providers for 276 core-based statistical areas dating back to 1996. Out of the 167 metropolitan areas that the Real Estate Market Reports covers, 53 of them reported annual home value increases in the second quarter of the year.

The news was especially good for the Detroit metro area, which registered a 2.1 percent increase on the Zillow Home Value Index.