By Jenn Bernstein

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The nationwide housing picture appears to be getting brighter. The Commerce Department announced new home sales jumped 5.7 percent in September.

It’s the highest level in 2 ½ years, but while the market continues to show signs of improvement, Philadelphia’s recovery is lagging behind, according to a new Zillow Real Estate Market Report.

U.S. home values are up 3.2 percent from this time in 2011, according to the report, but metro Philadelphia’s home values are down, 2.1 percent. In the city, home values went up 0.5 percent from this time last year.

Real Estate agent Christopher Orth, with Coldwell Banker, Hearthside, said now is the time to buy if you can.

He showed Eyewitness News a row home in West Mayfair that’s ready for a buyer. It’s priced at $127,400, and considered a steal.

“These houses were going for $150,000-$160,000 a couple year’s ago, they’re now averaging out to $125,000,” said Orth, “It’s the perfect time to invest in properties, with interest rates being so low.”

Orth said the house almost had a buyer, but is now back on the market, $2,500 cheaper.

“We had a buyer that loved the house,” said Orth, “she was qualified, and a couple of weeks later she found out she could not get the mortgage.”

It’s a trend Orth is seeing more and more; potential buyers that might have qualified for a mortgage a few years ago are being turned away.

Meanwhile, the rental market is through the roof. According to Zillow, the median cost of rent in Philadelphia has increased by 8.2 percent from this time last year.

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