To put that in perspective, there are 2.4 million houses on the market right now. There are 4.2 million houses in some state of foreclosure or serious delinquency. That’s a huge overhang that would take years of solid demand to go through, though Timiraos notes that the dearth of new construction helps balance that out.

But regardless of whether we bump along the bottom for a few years or we actually see price increases, the Journal and Timiraos have focused on what may turn out to be an important inflection point in housing, which has strangled the economy for half a decade. While there are still millions of struggling homeowners, it really does look like housing overall is moving into a recovery, and that has huge implications for the economy as a whole.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.