U.S. housing perking up, economists say

Oct. 3, 2012 at 7:10 PM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. housing market has turned the corner, a CNNMoney survey of economists indicates.

Nine of the 14 economists CNNMoney contacted said they believe prices have already turned higher or will do so yet this year. That's an improvement from three months ago when half thought a turnaround wouldn't take place until 2013 or later.

Three straight months of increases in the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, a pickup in sales of existing homes and home construction, and a significant uptick in the price of new home sales have buoyed the economists' optimism, CNNMoney said.

Mortgage rates are also expected to remain near record lows for the foreseeable future.

"We're seeing the signs of a pulse in a sector that has been flat-lined for a number of years," said Sean Snaith, economics professor at the University of Central Florida.

The housing market went in the tank in 2008. But since the fourth quarter of 2011, housing has been adding to growth, CNNMoney said. Lynn Reaser, chief economist for Point Loma Nazarene University, said housing is becoming a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish U.S. economy.

Still, the economists surveyed don't see housing becoming a major driver of the U.S. economy as it has in the past, CNNMoney said.

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