There’s no easy to way to address the flailing U.S. housing market: it’s bad. Home values are lower than ever. Foreclosures are on the rise. Homeowners are selling houses for a loss.

But the tides will soon change. Whether you’re a realtor selling starter homes in Omaha and Iowa City or Panama City Beach condos and New York high rises, you can anticipate good news in coming months.

1. From the Valley to the Mountains

The night is darkest before the dawn, you have to go through a valley to reach the summit and the housing market has to bottom out before it can start climbing again. But how soon will that happen?

Recent experts suggest the housing market will hit bottom in 2012. After the declining home values in the first quarter of 2011, things may get a little worse before realtors and homeowners stop feeling the sting of the recession.

With homes declining in value by 7-9% in the beginning of 2011 and over 37% of homes selling for a loss in March, experts suggest that by 2012 we will have seen the stabilization of such numbers followed by an upward trend.

But how?

2. Increased Residential Real Estate Lending

Banks are looking upon residential real estate lending with a more favorable eye. It’s becoming easier to be approved for residential loans. The standards for getting a loan to buy a home are more reasonable and more within reach to the standard would-be homeowner than in 2005.

At the same time, there has been no decrease in the amount of worthy buyers with good credit who are seeking residential real estate loans. There are still qualified buyers in the market with good credit, and now their chances of getting a loan from the bank will increase in 2011 and in following years.

3. It’s a Buyer’s Market

In a buyer’s market, homes are affordable and sellers are willing to do what they can to help get their home sold. Whether that means paying part or all of the closing costs, accepting lower offers or being flexible in negotiations, sellers are willing to cooperate to make a sale.

A buyer’s market also means that buying a home is easy right now. The competition may vary depending on the area, but overall, finding a good house for a decent price isn’t as difficult as in the past. Buying a house cheap during a valley, so to speak, also means selling at peak price. Buy low, sell high.

4. Pockets of Growth

Saying that the housing market is bad is a sweeping generalization made by looking at overall numbers. But overall numbers don’t show specific markets. The truth is, in some places, the housing market is flourishing.

In some areas like the mid-U.S. from Texas to North Dakota, the housing market has hardly been affected by the national economy. They’ve not dealt with sharp increases in mortgage, decreases, mass foreclosures or falling home values.

Even in states with housing markets near rock bottom such as Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Arizona, there are still areas in each state featuring sustainable growth. And, even in those tough housing markets, numbers are expected to stabilize. Additionally, the aggregate numbers are just that–aggregated. An average. The numbers don’t speak to specified locations or unaffected areas. There are still thriving housing markets.

5. Local over National

Many people forget that there’s no such thing as a true national housing average. It’s an invented number meant to reflect the overall state of the housing market. National averages may, in reality, bear no relevance to local markets.

The strength or weakness of a local housing market is determined by its own job market. If the city’s job market is on the rise, residents can expect to see the housing market rise as well, and vice versa. Also, if a city’s housing market has been declining and sellers have to let go of their homes for less than they paid, when new buyers move in, they’ll be set up to get the market back on track as numbers climb again.

As local markets begin to stabilize, the positive numbers of each city or state will begin to outweigh the ‘national average’ that looms over the heads of homeowners, realtors and hopeful homeowners.

Don’t lose hope in selling beachfront condos, high rises or even just the average starter home. The real estate market will rise out of the valley and begin the ascent back up to its peak. It just takes time.