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By Jason Stipp and Robert Johnson, CFA | 05-23-2012 01:00 PM

Housing Market Continues String of Improvements

Solid year-over-year sales growth, firmer pricing, and tighter inventories are finally painting a brighter picture for the long-suffering housing market.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar. We got some housing data this week that seemed to suggest we're building a good foundation for a housing recovery that we hope to see.

Joining me with the details is Morningstar's director of economic analysis, Bob Johnson.

Bob, thanks for joining me.

Bob Johnson: Nice to be here.

Stipp: We got three pieces of housing data this week; the first one was new home sales. We saw some pretty good year-over-year and sequential growth in new home sales. What did that report say to you?

Johnson: There is a lot of data in the new home sales report, but the good news is that we did better than expected; we had some revisions upward in the prior month, and we're now operating at about the 343,000 level. So, that's a much better number than we had been seeing in the past, where we've been under 300,000 for some time.

We're up on a year-over-year basis--which you know is the way I like to look at the numbers--we're up about 10% on a year-over-year basis in terms of single-family new-home sales. So, that's a great number. And even sequentially, we were up 3.3%. So, a nice surface gain in the number of units sold. Still well below what we'd what we'd consider normal, but to say that we're 10% above a year ago is a pretty big deal.

Stipp: So, March of last year, was that a particularly tough month for housing? Would you called it maybe an easy comp for this March to see some improvement?

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