Giving Housing a Hand

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Looking back at the housing boom is a painful exercise for many homeowners – particularly those who bought at the peak of the real estate market. Who needs another reminder of what was possibly one of the worst financial decisions they ever made?

Yet, a look at the first four months of 2010 can’t help but bring back those memories. Pending home sales have risen for three consecutive months, according to the latest numbers released by the National Association of Realtors. In April alone, the Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator, jumped 22.4%, following gains of 7.1% in March and 8.3% in February.

Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the main reason for that uptick: your friendly Federal Government has been giving the housing market a hand, and quite a strong one at that.  Mortgage rates have been at near-record lows for months and the $8,000 home buyer tax credit alone has brought nearly 1 million additional buyers to the market, according to NAR. “This stabilized home prices more quickly and has preserved about $900 billion in home equity,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a statement. “In turn, that is keeping additional households from going underwater and risking foreclosure.”

Whether the market can keep this momentum without the government’s help has been questioned by many economists – and is yet to be seen in the months ahead. In the meantime, took a look at which states saw the biggest boost in home sales during the first quarter of 2010, as well how much home prices increased in the nation’s most expensive metro areas. For the details, take a look at our infographic.

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