It seems at times like the economic recovery from the 2008-09 recession is slow. You might be wondering if there are any improvements at all, particularly in the housing market. The good news is, for many parts of the country, the answer is yes.

In the beginning of the Great Recession, the housing market collapsed, or as the phrase goes, the bubble burst. This happened because prices were over-inflated based on the actual value of the house. Think of what occurred in the 1990s in Silicon Valley with the dot com companies and their over-inflated stock prices.

So what parts of the housing market are improving? First of all, banks are starting to loan money again, both to contractors and to buyers. This easing of credit has a ripple effect across the economy because when contractors can get construction loans, they can then put people to work building. When people are working again, they can afford to buy or improve homes, so the cycle can carry on.

Housing starts are also an encouraging sign that a housing recovery is under way. Spurred on by the freedom to borrow again, they mean that there will be better inventory of houses coming soon.

Home sales are almost double what they were four years ago, and home prices have risen 33% on average. It’s also taking a lot less time to sell a house, particularly in some markets like the California Bay Area. Smaller homes, so-called starter homes, often sell in under two months now.

Almost half of the housing markets throughout the country are doing above the average rate of recovery, and most of them are actually the smaller markets. San Francisco is the rare exception thanks to tech businesses. Other large markets doing well are found in the mid-section of the country – Oklahoma City, Houston, and Austin.

Real estate agents have a much smaller inventory to work with, too, which is actually a good thing. At the bottom of the recession, there were over nine months’ worth of houses that they had available to sell. As of 2013, that was down to just over four months’ worth. The downside to a reduced inventory is that people will have a harder time trying to find a home.

You may have also noticed a reduction in the number of foreclosures in your neighborhood. That’s because the economy is picking up and people are finding it easier to refinance and get out from under heavy interest or overpriced homes.

If you’ve gone mortgage shopping recently, you may have noticed that there are any number of banks that are offering really good interest rates for the life of the loan. That’s due to the easing of the credit crunch and banks being willing to loan more and do so more readily.

As we’ve seen, there are more encouraging signs than there have been in recent years for the housing market as a whole. In certain areas of the country, there is cause for celebration because of how well things are going. We aren’t completely out of the woods yet, but things are certainly looking up.