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But foreign investors may be blurring the picture. The number of cities with better employment and housing numbers is down to 80 from a high of 101 a few months ago.
But the indicators have dropped in the past few months, again pointing to the long and bumpy road toward housing-market recovery.
The real-estate firm says second-quarter data showed the first annual increase in value since 2007. The company predicts a 1.1% increase in home values in the next year.
Builders' optimism seems well-placed, as building permits and new-home construction show a significant increase over 2011. Resurgence may aid economy.
The decline has been more dramatic in California, where inventory has declined by more than a third in some cities, and prices have risen.
The highest builder-confidence rating in 5 years comes despite problems with credit and the weakness of the overall economy.
Houston joins the list of markets that the NAHB sees as improving. But the builders' group's index fails to regain the 20% of cities that fell off last month.
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