Though not as robust as the 10.5 percent gain nationally, Fairfield County housing prices rose 5.3 percent from a year ago in March, largely on limited supplies.

CoreLogic, the California-based real estate analytics company, reported Tuesday the March results of its home price index.

Francine Brown, of Norwalk-based Brown Estate Realty, said the Fairfield County market continued to show strength in March with steady gains in prices.

"Houses are selling faster, and more are being sold after multiple bids," she said.

Nationally, CoreLogic said the increase in prices was largely due to supply constraints as fewer houses were on the market. Brown said that's also true in Fairfield County, but noted the number of homes and types available can vary widely by neighborhood and community.

For example, she said in lower Fairfield County, multi-family homes are definitely in short supply and when one is listed, it attracts multiple offers quickly.

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But when it comes to condominiums, there are lots of available units in some communities.

One thing pressuring prices in Fairfield County and Connecticut in general are distressed properties, defined as short sales and foreclosures.

Brown, who has expertise in that area, said the local market is still being held back by distressed sales, but not as much is it was a few years ago.

"Two years ago, about 50 percent of sales were distressed, today's it's about 25 percent," she said.

According to CoreLogic, when distressed sales are factored out, prices in the county were up 7.3 percent. Across Connecticut, prices were up 2.5 percent when all sales were considered and up 6.5 percent when distressed sales were excluded. Prices in Connecticut rose faster than 12 other states.

Nationally, distressed sales barely affected prices.

The distressed market is concentrated in the Bridgeport region, she said. While that's affecting prices, it isn't affecting sales as that end of the county remains a rich ground for investors who can buy a house for less than $100,000, fix it up and sell it for a profit.

Todd Martin, president of Fairfield-based Todd Martin Economic Services, said the market's continued gains are a result of low interest rates, prices that are still depressed from the peak set more than five years ago and the dwindling stock of available houses.

He expects more homes will come into the market as many potential sellers have waited on the sidelines for prices to go back up.

While prices are rising, they are not back to where they were prior to the market collapse, which makes this one of the most affordable markets in years, Martin said.

Still, there are some issues down the road, including the lack of income growth.

"Fundamentally, you need income growth," he said, to fuel a strong housing market as low interest rates can't last forever.; or get updates at