Construction workers attach a barrier to the exterior of an apartment building under construction in Centreville, Va.
Construction workers attach a barrier to the exterior of an apartment building under construction in Centreville, Va. - 

Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers reported a loss for the quarter ending April 30, about half as bad as last year's loss. The number of mortgage applications jumped 11 percent last week, the biggest increase in a month, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Much of that is thanks to homeowners trying to refinance at low rates.

Nicholas Retsinas, Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, says the signals from the housing market are mixed, but this is still an improvement over last year, when the message was all bad. "The reports recently indicate lots of activity in the market. But we don't know if that was artificially stimulated by the government."

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