WASHINGTON (AP) — 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:
U.S. builders began work in June on the most new homes in nearly four years. Housing starts rose 6.9 percent 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 2 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.
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 percent 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.
— NEW-HOME SALES
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.