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6 signs of a housing recovery

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Job growth
Job growth is another important factor affecting home values, says Walter Molony, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors.

"If you are in an area with growing population and rising jobs, the picture for you is quite bright," he says. "Around the country today, that's the common denominator among markets doing well."

For example, underlying strength in the local economy is helping neighborhoods surrounding several cities to produce solid year-over-year home-sale gains. Such cities include: Salt Lake City; Salem, Ore.; Farmington, N.M.; Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas; Spokane, Wash;, Austin, Texas; and Raleigh, N.C.

Markets near Denver and Boston are also "in better shape than before," Molony says.

However, job growth alone does not dictate the direction of residential real estate.

U.S. housing market trends
Hot Cold, but warming Still in the deep freeze
Austin, Texas Atlanta Cleveland
Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas Boston Detroit
Farmington, N.M. Denver Las Vegas
Raleigh, N.C. El Paso, Texas Miami
Salem, Ore. Tulsa, Okla. Minneapolis
Salt Lake City Phoenix
Spokane, Wash. San Diego
Tampa, Fla.

"Las Vegas and Miami are oversupplied," Molony says. "Some of those have good fundamentals, but they're in a temporary situation where they are overbuilt, so that affects prices."

If you live near those cities, particularly in less desirable towns, it may be a while before home-price appreciation on your block returns to historic norms.

Sign of recovery No. 2:
Unemployment is low or dropping in your community.

So, even though local job growth does not always guarantee a strong housing market, it certainly helps. Keep a close eye on the unemployment rate and other indicators of economic health in your community. The brighter the picture, the more likely it is that a real estate recovery is on the way.

Next: "Many would-be buyers continue to wait on the sidelines ..."
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