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Housing will rebound moderately in 2011, economists at the International Building Show recently predicted, and should gain even more steam in 2012.

But the recovery in homebuilding and home sales will vary widely from one part of the country to another, with the states that had the most success during the boom times of the last decade being the last to come back from their historic bust, according to an analysis from the Portland Cement Association.

"The head winds are still facing us in housing. They are less than they were but they are still in place," said Edward Sullivan, the chief economist for the PCA, who examined data on mortgage delinquencies, unemployment rates and home-price declines to create a state-by-state recovery prediction.

The housing markets that still face the hardest going, led by Nevada, account for more than 50% of the U.S. housing market, Sullivan pointed out, while those that will recover the fastest make up only 20%. That means the better times in those states won't do much to lift overall national housing numbers.

Here are the five states where housing will recover the quickest:

  • North Dakota. North Dakota has the lowest mortgage delinquency rate of any state at just 0.9%. It also has shown the best home-price performance of any state, with values up 7.2% from the peak of everyone else's boom in 2005 to what was a trough for everybody else in 2010. Only Texas, Vermont and South Dakota also reported gains over that time. The category the state did not lead was unemployment, which at 7.5% was just about double that of its southern neighbor South Dakota, which at 3.7% boasted the lowest rate.
  • South Dakota. In addition to its low unemployment number, South Dakota sports the nation's second-lowest mortgage delinquency rate at 1.5%. And the state also managed to steer clear of the home-price cliff, with prices having risen just 0.5% from 2005 to 2010.
  • Iowa. The Hawkeye State managed to keep its home prices nearly level over the worst five years in history for everyone else, with prices falling just 0.4%. Mortgage delinquencies are only 2.2% of outstanding loans in the state and the unemployment rate of 6.8% is still well below the national average.
  • Nebraska. With unemployment at 4.4%, Cornhuskers enjoy the second-lowest rate in the nation. Just 2.0% of outstanding mortgages are delinquent, and home prices fell only 3.5% from peak to trough while the average for the country was a 20% drop.
  • Oklahoma. Home prices in the Sooner State fell just 2.3% from peak to trough, and mortgage delinquencies are 2.9%. Unemployment is 6.9%.

If you think you see a pattern in those five states, you're right.

"The central portion of the country, generally, will recover first," Sullivan said. Add Kansas, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas to that bunch.

Other states that fall into the early-recovery category include Vermont, Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado and New Hampshire.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here are the five states where the housing recovery will be a lot longer in the making:

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  • Nevada. The poster child for the housing boom was Las Vegas, but now it's lights out on Glitter Gulch. The state has the highest mortgage delinquency rate in the country, at 8.3%, and the highest unemployment rate, at 14.4%. Nevada has also suffered the biggest peak-to-trough home-price declines of any area, a 56.4% tumble.
  • Michigan. Not a state that enjoyed the boom, but one really feeling the bust. It has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation at 13.1% and mortgage delinquencies hit 5.1% of outstanding loans. Home prices have also fallen hard, down 31.7% from the peak.
  • California. The second-highest mortgage delinquency rate in the country at 6.0%, the third-worst unemployment rate at 12.4% and home-price declines of 40.8% put the Golden State on a long path to health.
  • Florida. Tying California with a 6.0% mortgage delinquency rate but beating its cross-coast rival with a home-price decline of 46.9%, Florida also won't be doing well anytime soon. An unemployment rate of 11.7% doesn't help.
  • Rhode Island. Unemployment trips up Rhode Island, which ties for the fourth-highest rate in the country at 11.7%. Home-prices declines were 25.6%, and 4.9% of mortgages are delinquent.

This article was reported by Steve Kerch for MarketWatch.com.