According to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS), existing and new single-family home sales are significantly higher than last year’s figures. That rise in sales is just one of several indicators listed in The State of the Nation’s Housing 2012 report that a stable and continued housing market recovery is underway. Eric S. Belsky, managing director for the JCHS, explains that positive growth in single-family sales forms the basis for an overall good outlook.  He says in the JCHS release issued today that “stronger sales should further stabilize prices and pave the way for a pickup in single-family housing construction over the course of 2012.”

In addition to sales figures, here are a few other statistics from the report that point toward sustained improvement in the housing market:

  • In the first quarter of 2012, sales of newly constructed houses climbed nearly 17 percent higher than the same time period last year.

  • All single-family sales (new and existing) rose 6.3 percent above the 2011 results.

  • Single-family house starts began improving throughout the last half of 2011 to reach a 16.6 percent increase for this year’s first quarter over the 2011 first quarter totals.

  • Also growing in first quarter 2012, single-family permits are up 16.9 percent above figures for the same time period in 2011.

  • In big-picture conditions, residential construction and home improvement spending have contributed to the GDP in the last part of 2011 and beginning of 2012.

Rental markets, existing residential inventory, multifamily construction, and employment rates have all demonstrated continual increases, which further bolsters optimism. But not all numbers in the report inspire confidence. A sizable backlog of foreclosures, falling prices creating equity losses for existing owners, and a lending industry still hesitant to give loans even to strong applicants could dampen market growth.  The message from the JCHS in their executive summary, however, is for industry pros and consumers to feel good about the coming year.