America's battered housing industry is showing signs of life, according to new U.S. government statistics.
U.S. home sales recorded the largest monthly increase in more than eight years, rising 11 percent in June, according to the Commerce Department. It was the third consecutive month of rising sales.
Global Insight economist Nigel Gault says the sales jump is a welcome sign of improvement in an industry that has suffered its worst slump in decades.
"The signals, at least on the home sales front, are pretty clear. We hit bottom sometime during the first half of the year, and we are now on the uptrend," Gault said.
Even so, home values continue to decline. The median sales price in June was $206,000, down from $209,000 in May and $234,000 a year ago.
Nigel Gault says, over time, a revival of home sales will revitalize the entire industry.
"The housing market is stabilizing. Sales are starting to pick up. And as a result, builders are also starting to increase their construction of new homes," Gault said.
From 2003 through 2007, a housing boom boosted the U.S. economy, spawning construction across the country and providing millions of American homeowners with equity that many used to finance everything from home improvements to new cars.
But the housing market crashed in 2008 amid a rash of mortgage defaults and home foreclosures that triggered last year's financial meltdown and helped send a faltering U.S. economy into a deep, prolonged recession.