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As median home prices climb sharply in the North Bay, a recent report by real estate data tracker RealtyTrac shows that the Santa Rosa-Petaluma market is one of the most profitable nationwide for "flipping" homes.

The report by the Irvine, Calif.-based firm shows the Santa Rosa-Petaluma Metropolitan Statistical Area as the 18th most profitable market for those who buy, renovate and resell homes, part of a list of the 25 markets where the practice generated the highest rate of return in 2012. ...

Climbing home prices have attracted an array of investors in the current market, with "flipping" being among those practices. ...

The practice has changed from the days when buyers could purchase a distressed property at a deep discount and sell at a profit after basic renovations, Mr. Burke said. While investors were able to put between $10,000 and $30,000 into a property for a profitable sale while the market was at its low, those activities now entail from $30,000 up to as much as $250,000, he said.

"Now the business has shifted to looking for properties that may need another bedroom, or even a full rebuild of a home," he said. "It's basically the homebuilding of this decade. It used to be you buy a property and build 20 homes on it — that was real estate development." [read more of "Santa Rosa ranked one of most profitable 'flip' markets"]