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Finally, housing bust is over

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Posted: 8 am ET

In the past year, various reports and experts have speculated we are at or near the bottom of the housing crisis. Now, close to seven years after the crisis began, all the numbers are indicating that the bust is over, according to the Wall Street Journal. The news outlet reports that 44 of 47 economists surveyed believe the housing market has finally hit bottom and is turning positive.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index showed the first monthly rise in house prices in March, after seven months of declines. Inventory of existing homes is close to what's considered normal, housing starts and builder confidence have been steadily improving and home vacancy rates are the lowest they've been since 2006. Home construction is also contributing to the country's GDP for the first time since before 2006.

That's not to say recovery will be quick or follow a straight line. Nearly a quarter of homeowners are underwater on their mortgage and unwilling to sell at a loss. As home prices rise, it will alleviate the situation, but there is still a large shadow inventory of homes that will eventually go into foreclosure, putting the market under more stress.

But at least the housing crisis, a catalyst in the economic slowdown that led to the Great Recession, is no longer the drag it once was on economic recovery. Anemic job growth has taken center stage as the factor that is standing in the way of consumer confidence and financial security.

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