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With new foreclosure data, a look at the housing market

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Jeremy Hobson: We’re getting some new data this morning about the housing market. The foreclosure listing company RealtyTrac says there was an uptick in foreclosure activity last month, but it’s down compared with a year ago.

Which brings us to the eternal question: Has the housing market finally hit bottom?

Marketplace’s David Gura reports.

David Gura: Economists pore over data, charts and spreadsheets, to assess the health of the housing market.

Phill Swagell teaches public policy at the University of Maryland. If you look at a graph of the housing market over these last few years, it’s pretty dramatic.

Phill Swagell: Oh boy, it is a really deep valley. It is like a gorge.  So, we’re still toward the bottom of that gorge, but we’re bumping along the bottom, and in some measures, we’re starting to climb out of it.

The housing market has a lot of moving parts. Foreclosure activity is one of them, but there are also signs of improvement in home sales and construction.

Mark Vitner says the median price of homes is an important indicator. He’s a senior economist at Wells Fargo.

Mark Vittner: The actual low in home prices is behind us, and it is behind us in virtually every part of the United States.

And as the inventory of foreclosed properties goes down, housing prices should continue to go up.

In Washington, I’m David Gura, for Marketplace.

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