The ailing U.S. housing market, the trigger of the Great Recession, is indeed starting to recover - but it'll take years before it's healed.
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The Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller Home Price Index released today (Tuesday) revealed that home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose in June from the same period a year ago. It also marked the first such gain since September 2010.
All 20 cities tracked by the index also rose in June from May, the second month in a row in which every city posted month-over-month gains. The most robust one-month gains came from Detroit, Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta.
"The combined positive news coming from both monthly and annual rates of change in home prices bode well for the housing market," David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P's index committee said in a statement. "We seem to be witnessing exactly what we need for a sustained recovery: monthly increases coupled with improving annual rates of change."
Helping the housing market rebound are record-low interest rates. Mortgage rates hit historic lows this year, and while they have inched up a tad, they are still at record low levels.
The National Association of Realtors last week reported sales of previously occupied homes climbed 10% in the past year. Builders, seeing an uptick in interest from potential buyers, are growing more confident. The group in June applied for the largest number of building permits in roughly four years.
The news is encouraging, but don't be mistaken: The U.S. housing market is still a far cry from healed or even healthy.
"We seem to have upward momentum and we have confirmatory evidence and like NAHB housing confidence index," said economist and index founder Robert Shiller. "But you know we have lots of clouds on the horizon too."
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