The economy continues to struggle in many respects, but housing has been one bright spot in recent months. The S&P/Case-Shiller numbers for October were announced today and they provided more evidence that demand for existing homes is strengthening. The 20-City Composite Index showed only a slight rise in prices from September to October, but prices were up a robust 4.3% on a year-over-year basis. They are up 5.4% from the low set in January 2012.
Of course, much of the demand is coming from investors who see an opportunity to buy homes at rock-bottom prices. However, a good portion of the demand is coming from genuine would-be residents. After all, there is a lot of pent-up demand. Furthermore, housing is closely tied to employment. People don't rush out and buy homes if they think they might get laid off in the near future. Keep in mind that the numbers released today are lagged by two months so we don't really know how good (or bad) the housing market was in November and December. Yet I can't help but get a bit enthusiastic about the employment market and the overall economy based on these latest results. Now if we could just get our fiscal house in order, 2013 could turn out to be a pretty good year.