Salients Points:

The residential real-estate market is weathering the U.S. economic slowdown.

Single family starts rose at the highest rate this year, while apartment construction slumped. Building permits climbed to the highest level since September 2008 on lower prices and record-low mortgage rates. Overall starts in May declined 13 percent in the Midwest, 20 percent in the Northeast, but rose 14 percent in the West. Confidence among U.S. homebuilders climbed in June to a five-year high.

More distressed properties are coming to market, adding to inventory and pushing down prices. Banks are turning to repossession alternatives.

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