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Slow recovery creeps along in US housing market

New reports show home prices and sales are still falling — sort of.

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Signs are posted in front of new homes at the KB Home Quarry Heights housing development on March 23, 2012 in Petaluma, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

You know things are bad when the guy who helped create the leading gauge of US home prices wonders whether the housing market will rebound in time for his generation to see it.

Yale economics professor Robert Shiller told Reuters on Tuesday that he worries the US housing market “might not see a really major turnaround in our lifetimes."

Unadjusted to reflect seasonal fluctuations, his namesake S&P Case-Shiller home price index earlier in the day showed home prices in 20 major cities fell to their lowest level since the downturn began, the Washington Post said.

Even with adjustments, the index pointed to an only 0.2 percent price gain in February, a welcome figure considering home prices have been sliding for almost a year. But even with that gain, home prices are down 3.5 percent for the year.

Separately, the latest data on new home sales released today shows fewer Americans are buying houses even though mortgages are a lot cheaper than they used to be. New home sales fell 7 percent in March, according to the US Commerce Department.

Yikes.

Luckily, there were a couple of silver linings to today’s housing data clouds.

Home prices have been stabilizing in some of the hardest-hit sand states: Nevada, Florida, Arizona and California.

New home sales were stronger than the government initially reported in February, which turned what would have been March’s sales gain into a loss. And the inventory of new homes available, fell to about five months worth.

HFE economists quoted in the Washington Post put it well, “Still a very long way to go, but the market is gaining.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120424/slow-recovery-creeps-along-us-housing-market