Good news for Bay Area home prices

Bay Area home prices rose from April to May, the second straight monthly gain and a surefire sign that the cold-cocked real estate market is finally coming around.

Unless, of course, it’s not. The data could just as easily reflect growing distress in the high-end market that is forcing more well-to-do owners to unload their homes, distorting the statistics with discounted but still relatively expensive properties and foreshadowing greater pain to come.

“If you ignore the greater reality and look only at statistics, then you could conclude that we’re at least nearing market stability,” said Andrew LePage, an analyst with San Diego research firm MDA DataQuick, which compiles the figures. “But given all the forces out there, the mixed signals from the data and the unknowns, it will be at least fall before there’s any clarity.”

By James Temple, Chronicle Staff Writer