""The housing sector has been a significant driver of recovery from most recessions in the United States since World War II," Bernanke said. "This time, however, a number of factors--including the overhang of distressed and foreclosed properties, tight credit conditions for builders and potential homebuyers, and the large number of "underwater" mortgages (on which homeowners owe more than their homes are worth)--have left the rate of new home construction at only about one-third of its average level in recent decades.""

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