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Our Nation Shows Big-Time Housing Rebound

WASHINGTON — You've probably seen some of the reports during the past week about home sales and prices. Housing is hot.

» New home sales in May were almost 30 percent higher than a year ago, and average prices jumped by about 10 percent during the past 12 months to $308,000.

» Resales of homes were up by 13 percent in May over May 2012. Median prices increased by 15.4 per-cent, the sixth straight month of double digit gains and the largest monthly advance since October 2005.

» Median prices of new listings in some cities where inventories of homes listed for sale are tight and multiple bidding situations are routine have gone off the charts.

But one key housing number that hasn't gotten as much attention — yet directly affects the financial health of millions of Americans — is home equity. Thanks to the big gains in home values, total home equity balances have grown by more than $2 trillion within the past 12 months to nearly $9.1 trillion, a 28.6 percent gain, according to the Federal Reserve.

That's $2.5 trillion above where it was at the end of 2011, but still below the $10 trillion it hit in 2007, on the eve of the market crash. During the last three months of 2012 alone, total home equity grew by a stun-ning $816 billion. That's what's happening across the country as real estate markets rebound from five years of recession.

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