Americans are regaining confidence in the housing market five years after it collapsed. Builders are starting work on more homes. Sales of new and previously occupied homes are up from the same time last year. Home prices are rising in most markets. The market still has a long way to regain full health. But the data suggest that a recovery is under way. Here's a look at recent housing indicators.
CONSTRUCTION: Workers finish up a house in Wylie, Texas. U.S. builders began work in June on the most new homes in nearly four years. Housing starts rose 6.9 per cent from May in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000. That's the highest since October 2008. The level of construction remains well below the rate of roughly 1.5 million homes a year that's considered healthy and the two million rate reached during the housing bubble. But it's much stronger than the annual rate of 478,000 homes at the depth of the housing bust.
LM Otero/The Associated Press
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PRICES: Construction workers build new homes at a development in San Marcos, Calif. Prices in half the 20 cities in the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index have risen over the past 12 months. Even with the gains, the index remains 34 per cent below its peak reached in the summer of 2006, at the height of the housing boom. Based on the 20-city index, home prices are now at about the same level as in early 2003.
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NEW-HOME SALES: Jim Christy moves a five-panelled door after staining at a new home in Pepper Pike, Ohio. New home sales have reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 homes, the best pace since April 2010. Despite the increases, the level is less than half the roughly 700,000 that economists consider healthy.
Tony Dejak/The Associated Press
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SALES OF PREVIOUSLY OCCUPIED HOMES: A "for sale" sign is seen outside a home in New York. Sales of previously occupied homes have risen 9.6 per cent from a year ago. Still, the pace has slowed since nearly touching a two-year high in April and remains well below the six million that economists consider normal. Sales of previously occupied homes in May reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million.
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BUILDER SENTIMENT: A worker walks past a stairway in a single-family home under construction in Park Ridge, Ill. Confidence among U.S. home builders has reached a five-year high, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index. The index is based on responses from 318 builders. Turnout by prospective buyers is also at a level not seen in five years.
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HOME-BUILDER STOCKS: Workers unload roof tiles at a KB Home development in Gilbert, Ariz. The stocks of the 13 U.S. home builders whose shares are publicly traded have increased an average 60 per cent this year. By contrast, the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index is up about 9 per cent this year.
Matt York/The Associated Press
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MORTGAGE RATES: A customer enters a branch of the National City Corp. bank in Strongsville, Ohio. The average rate on the fixed-rate 30-year mortgage is at a record low of 3.56 per cent. The rate on the 30-year loan has fallen to or matched record low levels in 11 of the past 12 weeks.
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