December existing home sales rose 5% and December starts of single family homes rose 4.4%. While all these rates remain below the pace seen before the financial crisis, the figures are headed in the right direction. December 2011 also is up from December 2010 for both existing home sales and single family housing starts by 3.6% and 11.6% respectively. For much of 2011, apartment construction was the driving force in housing starts. Although this was down by 4.1% in December it was up 69.1% compared to December 2010. Driven by apartments, total housing starts were up 24.9% from December 2010 to December 2011. These reports suggest that while prices remain soft, both realtors and home builders are seeing some hints of possible improvement.