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Long haul still ahead for housing?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 25, 2011 07:24 AM

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Sales of new homes are picking up this spring, with new numbers due out this morning.

Economists are estimating a 12 percent jump when the Commerce Department releases its March housing report at 10 a.m., Bloomberg reports.

But any progress is likely to be tenuous until more people who lost their jobs during the Great Recession are able to get back on their feet again.

I did my own informal survey at a family Easter gathering this weekend.

Of 12 adults, four are now unemployed, or soon to be.

Two lost their jobs back during the start of the recession and have struggled to land an interview, let alone a paying position, since then.

Another works out of state in the manufacturing field and will soon be out of work when his company folds, while the fourth took a year off after being pink slipped to spend time with her children and is just now starting to look.

Yet we all had a good time, with the initial shock of job loss now history and adjustments having been made to changed circumstances.

In fact, if my little family gathering means anything, the gloom of the recession appears to be slowly lifting as the economy picks up and individuals and families find new and unexpected ways to get by.

In two cases, families hit by the loss of a wage earner have found other ways to make do, with spouses who had been playing supporting roles when it comes to income picking up the slack.

But getting by is a far cry from feeling financially secure enough to buy a house.

In contrast to the bubble years, no one was talking about major renovations - let alone selling their house and buying a new one. One couple, both still employed, looked at the possibility of moving from their increasingly cramped condo to a house, but decided to stay put for now. With prices falling, they figure there is no rush.

Maybe things will be different next Easter, but right now the folks in my extended family are hunkering down, not buying new homes.

What about your family?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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