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In this Jan. 12, 2015 photo, a builder works on a new apartment building under construction in Phoenix. The National Association of Home Builders releases housing market index for January on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
US housing: Going up.
SLOW BUILD

Absolutely everything you need to know about US housing right now

By Matt Phillips

Besides wages, one of the few missing ingredients in the US economic recovery has been housing. But things there are starting to change.

Slowly and steadily, single-family home starts are increasing

New data showed them at at fresh post-crisis peak in December.

Granted, we’re nowhere near levels of home building seen during the boom

But given how that ended, that’s probably a good thing.

But this is still a big deal for the economy

During the worst of the Great Recession, residential construction was a massive drag on GDP.

But happily, that drag has dissipated

Construction jobs are rallying.

And housing could be poised for a good run of healthy growth

Home prices are rising, but not surging.

US consumers are in better financial shape

The balance sheets of American households have healed up nicely.

Mortgage rates are still very low

Thanks to the Fed.

And people seem to be responding to them again

Refinancing, for instance, has jumped. And applications for home purchases are rising a bit.

Perhaps because consumers are feeling more optimistic

Consumer sentiment has been hitting post-crisis highs.

Which suggests that rates of homeownership might begin to rise once more

And they have plenty of room to run before we approach bubble territory again.