Obama promotes positive signs in housing market

Associated Press Published: October 20, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eager to take note of signs of recovery, President Obama is drawing attention to improvements in the housing industry while keeping up pressure on Republicans to back policies the White House says would help struggling homeowners refinance their debts.

"One of the heaviest drags on our recovery is getting lighter," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. "Now we have to build on the progress we've made and keep moving forward."

Obama cited an increased pace in construction of single-family houses and apartments in September. The Commerce Department said this week that last month's construction pace was the fastest in more than four years. Home sales are also up compared with last year, though sales dipped in September from August's two-year high.

With the economy still the dominant issue of the presidential campaign, Obama has been counting on voters believing that conditions are improving. But even indicators that are favorable to Obama still don't signal a strong recovery.

Obama conceded that too many mortgage holders are still under water, owing more than their homes are worth, and blamed congressional Republicans for not passing legislation he proposed in February that would lower lending rates for millions of borrowers. Republicans have objected, citing among other things the estimated $5 billion to $10 billion cost of the proposal.

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