Barclays Capital put out a report recently forecasting that home prices, which fell by more than a third after the housing bubble burst in 2007, could be back to peak levels as soon as 2015.
"In our view, the housing market had undergone a dramatic over-correction during the prior five years, resulting in pent-up demand for housing purchases that would spark a rapid rise in housing starts," said Stephen Kim, an analyst with Barclays, in a note to clients.
In addition to what Kim sees as a big rebound in building, he's bullish on home prices, expecting rises of 5 percent to 7.5 percent a year.
Construction is expected to be even stronger, with numerous experts forecasting home construction to grow by at least 20percent a year for each of the next two years. Some believe building could be back near the pre-bubble average of about 1.5 million new homes a year by 2016, about double the 750,000 homes expected this year.
"We think the recovery is for real this time around," said Rick Palacios, senior analyst with John Burns Real Estate Consulting. "If you look across the U.S. economy right now, there are only a handful of industries looking at 20 to 30 percent growth over the next four to five years, and housing is one of those."
Home builder stocks are up 162 percent in the last 12 months, led by a 250 percent jump at PulteGroup. Other leading builders including DR Horton, Toll Brothers, KB Home and Lennar have all seen their stocks more than double over that time. New orders at publicly-traded builders are up 30 percent since January, according to Kim.
Palacios said stocks in other sectors, from manufacturers of drywall to flooring to kitchen and bath fixtures, have all more than doubled as well this year.
The housing rebound can have a ripple effect that could help get the entire economy growing at a much stronger pace, which will add to more demand for housing.
For years, Brooklyn took a backseat to its towering neighbor, Manhattan -- but no longer.
Today, Brooklyn is one of the fastest growing cities with a population of about 2.5 million, making it the most populous borough in New York and independently one of the largest cities in the U.S.
This hipster-friendly borough attracts young chefs, artists, entrepreneurs, families and more, who have opened farm-to-table restaurants, cool art galleries and boutiques, and trendy shopping areas like the Brooklyn Flea and Dekalb Market. With amazing cultural venues like the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Brooklyn Museum, and the addition of the Barclays Center, NYC’s newest sports and entertainment venue, the area is bound to continue to develop and gentrify.
Seattle picked up momentum back in the ‘90s when Kurt Cobain popularized the grunge trend and a little coffee shop called Starbucks began to gain traction.
Today the city continues to attract young people and was recently ranked the best place for young professionals to thrive, according to mobile events company timeRAZOR, thanks to its high number of bars and restaurants (numbering over 6,000) and its high median income (the average college graduate there earns $53,185 annually).
Seattle was also ranked one of the 10 Cities With the Fastest Growing Wages in America. Home to major corporations Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing, and tech startups like Facebook and Zynga (which recently opened offices there), the city will continue to attract young, creative professionals in the next few decades.
This college town was recently ranked the Next Biggest Boomtown in the U.S. by Forbes.
It’s the third fastest-growing city in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau, with high rates of job creation.
Austin is also a hip, artsy college town that attracts artists, students, intellectuals and creative types. The thriving live music scene and Tex-Mex food add to the allure, ensuring that people will continue to call Austin home.
Boulder is fast becoming the newest tech center with a thriving community of startups, earning it the nickname of Silicon Flatirons.
In fact, there are so many new jobs here, with at least 50 tech companies hiring, that the organizers of Boulder Startup Week paid for people to fly to Boulder to fill these open jobs.
Boulder is widely regarded as one of the healthiest and happiest cities in the U.S., according to Gallup, thanks to the active outdoor lifestyle and the thriving intellectual community that comprises this college town.
According to a recent YPulse survey, more and more millennials are opting to live in small cities like Detroit.
These young idealists are moving back to Detroit, breathing new life into the downtrodden city with their small businesses, many of which are socially and environmentally responsible. The Urban Innovation Exchange showcases Detroit’s growing social innovation movement, promoting small businesses such as Recycle Here! and Food Lab Detroit. This type of optimism and innovation makes Detroit a city to watch.
The low housing prices, affordable lifestyle, and cool arts scene are attracting young people to Philadelphia.
These people are getting involved in the city through organizations like Young Involved Philadelphia and bringing a new sense of dynamism to it, with new restaurants, shops, galleries, and a cool music and arts scene.
The City of Brotherly Love has some of the best public art in the country. It's famous for its murals, which adorn buildings all around the city. The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program coordinates these murals, connecting artists to the community.
Walmart, the second biggest American corporation according to the Fortune 500, is headquartered in this relatively small city in northwest Arkansas.
The Walmart campus and Walton family play a big role in the Bentonville culture. Walmart heir Alice Walton spent $800 million on the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which was designed by architect Moshe Safdie and houses her vast personal collection.
As the Waltons continue to invest and Walmart continues to thrive, Bentonville will become a top city.
This laid-back city epitomizes small-town charm, but it’s also emerging as a leader in sustainability.
Most restaurants here serve local organic fare, shops sell local Vermont-made products, and people shop for groceries in community-owned co-ops. Much of the food consumed in town comes from local farms or from the Intervale Center, a nonprofit organization that cultivates 350 acres of land to provide food for the city's residents.
This environmentally-friendly city has turned its focus on sustainability into a form of economic self-reliance -- a model which will become increasingly more important in the years ahead.
With its active healthy lifestyle, its beautiful mountainous surroundings, and its thriving job market, Salt Lake City, recently ranked One of the 10 Best Cities for College Grads, will continue to attract eager young college graduates.
North Dakota is experiencing an oil boom, which could make Williston and the nearby towns one of the largest sources of petroleum in the country -- and that means unprecedented wealth in the years ahead.
The population has exploded as people flock there in droves to seek their fortunes, and although the city is undertaking a building frenzy, it hasn’t been able to keep up with the influx of wannabe oil workers.