The mainstream media do not do home buyers or sellers any favors with their articles about housing trends. At best, they may make some references to their own local markets, but when it comes to national trends, the best we can hope for from the L.A. Times, New York Times and their like are a few remarks about regional trends.
Such information is useless to people looking to purchase a home in an actual neighborhood. For them, information by zip code is most helpful, although local real estate agents can break things down by the neighborhood within the zip code. One of the best places to find housing trend information is the web site of Better Homes and Garden Real Estate. There, you will find a rich trove of sales and price trends by zip code, as well as climate and crime information and many other clearly displayed details about the community.
According to the housing charts on the site, data is currently updated through the 4th quarter of 2008. That is much more relevant than the data at the widely used Best Places.net web site, where a spokesperson told me their data has not been updated since late in 2007.