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US Housing Market Improves

  • VOA News

FILE - A "For Sale" sign hangs in front of a house in Walpole, Massachusetts.

FILE - A "For Sale" sign hangs in front of a house in Walpole, Massachusetts.

The battered U.S. housing market recovered strongly in 2013 with sales increasing and prices rising.

Thursday's report from the National Association of Realtors says sales over the last 12 months were the strongest since 2006.

Researchers at RealtyTrac, which closely monitors foreclosures and other housing activities, say the recovery will continue in 2014, but the gains will come at a slower pace.

RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist told VOA that he expects to see more homes being purchased in the next year by families rather than investors.

"We can't continue to see home price appreciation of 20-30 percent in some of these markets, so we will see home price increases moderate in more of a broader-base recovery in 2014, as opposed to one driven largely by investors," said Blomquist.

LendingTree, a company that matches mortgage lenders with borrowers, says its survey shows most homeowners expect interest rates to rise over the next year, making it more difficult to afford a new home.

Another business research group says its index of leading economic indicators rose slightly in December. The Conference Board says the data probably means steady growth this spring, unless renewed political bickering in Washington hurts consumer and business confidence.

A separate government report said the number of newly fired workers signing up for unemployment assistance rose very slightly - by 1,000 to a nationwide total of 326,000 - but remained at a level low enough to indicate a gradually improving job market.