Friday Five: Like Spring, Housing Market Blooms Early

Sales of existing homes surged this winter, making the spring home-buying season look even more promising.

New figures from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® show that sales of existing homes have increased nearly 9% since this time last year. Aside from a slight dip in February, this winter has proven to be one of the most robust housing markets since 2008. And more and more Americans are taking advantage of the benefits of home ownership. Read two inspiring home owners stories, plus other housing marketing headlines, in this week’s Friday Five.

ABC News: Housing Sales Surge

Existing-home sales jumped, making this the best winter for the housing market in 5 years. And the sale of just one house can have a ripple effect on the economy, experts say.

Bloomberg:U.S. Housing Heals as Starts Near Three-Year High: Economy

Housing starts in the U.S. hovered in February near a three-year high and building permits rose, adding to signs that the industry at the heart of the last financial crisis is stabilizing.

NPR: Sweet Home: When Owning Isn’t All About Money

Those battered by the crisis continue to find paths to home ownership, despite financial disincentives. The Rhodes’ path to home ownership comes despite a foreclosure. A local bank and a nonprofit called Build Wealth helped them do some intensive credit repair. Fast forward: they closed on a home in December with a monthly payment less than they paid for an apartment.

New York Times:In Buying House Out of Foreclosure, ‘I’ve Done My Part’

For most people, Jennifer Kuzara’s modest residence in the quiet working-class neighborhood of Edgewood near Atlanta is just another house. But for her it’s the culmination of more than 1,000 hours of hard work and a place that she’s proud to call home: “Rehabilitating an empty home is good for the community; it improves home values for everyone on my street. “

Washington Business Journal: Home Ownership Still the American Dream

Despite the housing market meltdown that started in 2007 and is only now showing signs of recovery, most Americans still think owning a home is preferable to renting, according to a quarterly Fannie Mae survey.