After Years of False Hope, Signs of the Housing Market Turning

WASHINGTON – Announcements of a housing recovery have become a wrongheaded rite of summer, but after several years of false hopes, evidence is accumulating that the optimists may finally be right.

 

The housing market is starting to recover. Prices are rising. Sales are increasing. Home builders are clearing lots and raising frames.

 

Joe Niece, a real estate agent in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie, said he recently concluded a streak of 13 consecutive bidding wars over homes that his clients wanted to buy. Each sold above the asking price.

 

“I just had a home that wasn’t supposed to go on the market for two weeks sold before it even went on the market,” Mr. Niece said. “It’s definitely a lot different than what we saw” during the last few summers.

 

Like the economic recovery that began three years ago, what happens next is likely to prove a little disappointing. The pace of recovery will probably be slow, and the prices of many homes will continue to decline.

 

Millions of people remain underwater, owing more on their homes than the homes are worth, and unable to sell. Millions of families still face foreclosure. And a setback in the still-fragile economic recovery could easily reverse the uptick in housing prices, too.

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