Green Shoots for Housing (Again?)

It was a year ago in April that Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke declared he detected the "green shoots" of an economic recovery. But 12 months later, a lot of homeowners are left wondering why a significant housing recovery never seemed to blossom. Well, this spring, the green shoots are back. But this time, they're sprouting buds. The most encouraging evidence that a mini-housing boom is taking root this spring? Developers have started building new homes at their fastest rate in over a year.

Home builders started work on houses and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 626,000 in March, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census. That's up from 616,000 in February and up even more from most of last year, when housing starts ranged between 521,000 and 593,000 per month.The new construction follows a jump in pending home sales for February and an increase earlier this month in mortgage applications by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

But is the housing recovery for real this time?