Housing affordability

The National Association of Realtors' Housing Affordability Index rose dramatically in the fall. Falling mortgage interest rates and rising income levels accounted for the increase.

Consumer confidence

The Consumer Confidence Index dropped sharply in December. The current level of 80.3 is perilously close to October's 79.6, when the index dropped precipitously to its lowest level since November 1993. Consumers are more optimistic about the future than they are the present, dragging the index down.

Second mortgage interest rates

Financing for remodeling projects continues to be as good as it has ever been. Second mortgage interest rates have hit yet another record low, dropping under 5 percent for the first time, in December.

Leading economic indicators

The Conference Board's Index of Economic Indicators rose in November -- the first significant increase since May. This eases fears of a double-dip recession but does not foretell a short-term improvement in the economy. Many variables are fluctuating monthly between positive and negative values, reflecting a volatile and unpredictable economy.

Per capita disposable income

The upward trend in personal income is substantial enough to support a stronger economic recovery than what is currently occurring.