Home prices rise in January
Finally, a piece of genuine good news on the housing front.
Housing starts have been up and down over the last year, but in January, housing prices rose a robust 1%, the best performance since 2006.
Single-family home prices rose in January, starting the year with the biggest annual increase in six-and-a-half years in a fresh sign the housing market recovery remains on track, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday.
The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 1 percent month-on-month in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping expectations for 0.9 percent. Prices have been gaining since last February.
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, prices rose 0.1 percent.
Prices in the 20 cities climbed 8.1 percent year-over-year, also beating expectations for 7.9 percent. It was the biggest yearly increase since June 2006, when housing prices were on their way down as the market was starting to collapse.
There are still several million homeowners underwater on their mortgages. This will act as a drag on the recovery in housing until the slack is taken up and housing sales rebound along with housing values.
But as the value of Americans' homes rises, wealth returns to American families. That would be a strong psychological boost to the recovery from recession that still seems an elusive goal.