Declining home values have been a massive weight on the economy for years, but the market has been showing signs of improvement as of late. Rising home prices mean fewer people are underwater on their mortgages. This, in turn, means more people can afford to sell their homes and move up. Every time a home is sold, that is money in the pockets of such folks as Realtors, mortgage brokers, appraisers, attorneys, and movers. Meanwhile, an improving housing market is encouraging more people to take the plunge on newly constructed homes. New-home sales peaked at 1.28 million in 2005, but plunged to just 306,000 last year. Last week, though, the Census Bureau reported that new-home sales in July were up 25 percent from a year earlier.
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