The shore area of South Jersey finally may be joining the improving housing market elsewhere in the nation.

The median existing single-family home in the region sold for $7,800 more in the second quarter than one year earlier, according to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors, or NAR.

The price difference represents a nearly 4 percent increase on the median home sale in a region encompassing Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties.

The median price — $226,500 in the second quarter — means half of homes sold for less, half for more.

Nationally, median sale prices increased about 12 percent during that same period, which the National Association of Realtors said was the strongest year-over-year price gain in seven years.

“Within the last two years, I’ve certainly seen prices stabilize. For a while, they were going in a downward direction,” said John McCann, co-owner and broker of record at McCann Realtors, which predominantly serves Sea Isle City and Ocean City. “There’s evidence of absolute improvement compared to where we were, but we still have a ways to go.”

McCann said interest rates, which are still relatively low but have been increasing the past few months, had been motivating some buyers.

“I’ve had several settlements over the past four months because of interest rates starting to move. After (the rates) came up, they became more aggressive with their searches. Now I’m seeing people looking and pulling the trigger,” he said.

NAR economist Lawrence Yun said states with judicial foreclosures, which includes New Jersey, have not seen prices rebound as quickly as elsewhere.

“In areas where foreclosed inventory still looms because distressed properties are mired in a slow process, lender and market uncertainty are holding back price growth,” Yun said in a statement.

Southern New Jersey’s real estate market includes a diverse range of properties, from year-round houses to secondary vacation homes.

The recently released NAR data do not yet include a county-by-county breakdown.

In the region, these second-quarter figures are an improvement from the first quarter, when the median price of a single-family home dipped 5 percent, to $210,100, compared with the first quarter of 2012.

But another measurement, this one by CoreLogic, a data and analytics company based in California, offered a different take on regional home prices.

The firm said Atlantic County prices, including distressed sales, increased about 1 percent in June from a year ago. Excluding those short sales and foreclosures, prices increased about 4 percent.

CoreLogic said Cape May County prices increased about 5 percent in June from a year ago, and nearly 6 percent excluding distressed sales.

CoreLogic said prices still declined in June in Cumberland County, by almost 3 percent from June 2012 including distressed sales. But excluding distressed sales, prices dropped even further — about 7 percent.

Contact Brian Ianieri:

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.