Good news is building for the housing market, with home prices and sales well above where they were at this time last year.
According to the closely-watched S&P Case-Shiller index, home prices in January were 8.1% higher than they were 12 months earlier. That's the best year-over-year performance in nearly seven years. The index tracks prices in the 20 largest U.S. markets.
Prices were up sharply in some of the areas hit hardest by the housing bubble. Phoenix had the biggest 12-month increase, with prices jumping 23.2%. Prices rose 15.3% in Las Vegas, 13.8% in Detroit and 13.4% in Atlanta.
The rise in home prices is due, in part, to a low supply of homes for sale in many cities.
"Steady employment and low borrowing rates pushed inventories down to their lowest pre-recession levels," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Blitzer also noted foreclosure filings are down 25% year over year.
Meanwhile, the government reports sales of new homes in February were up 12.3% from the same time last year. The short-term news wasn't as good; February sales were down 4.6% from January's pace. But the median price of new homes rose 3%, to $246,800.