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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WSJ: The U.S. Housing Bust Is Over

by Calculated Risk on 7/11/2012 12:24:00 PM

Something I've been saying for months, from the WSJ: The U.S. Housing Bust Is Over

Builders began work on 26% more single-family homes in May 2012 than the depressed levels of May 2011. The stock of unsold newly built homes is back to 2005 levels. In each of the past four quarters, housing construction has added to economic growth. In the first quarter, it accounted for 0.4 percentage points of the meager 1.9% growth rate.

"Even with the overall economy slowing," Wells Fargo Securities economists said, cautiously, in a note to clients, "the budding recovery in the housing market appears to be gradually gaining momentum."
Housing is still far from healthy ... Still, the upturn in housing is a milestone, a particularly welcome one amid a distressing dearth of jobs. For some time, housing has been one of the biggest causes of economic weakness. It has now—barely—moved to the plus side. "A little tail wind is a lot better than a headwind," says economist Chip Case, the "Case" in Case-Shiller.

"Manufacturing had led growth and construction had lagged," JPMorgan Chase economists said last week."Now the roles are reversed: Manufacturing growth has slowed as private construction comes to life."
For the housing industry, the recovery has started. As I've noted before, the debate is now about the strength of the recovery, not whether there is a recovery. The question about house prices is not as clear, although I think prices have bottomed for the national repeat sales indexes.