Housing in 2015

Six years ago, homebuilders and Realtors were facing brutal business conditions: millions of Americans were losing their jobs and homes.

As 2015 begins, hiring is strong and economic indicators are pointing up. Could this be the year when the housing market finally breaks out of its tepid recovery and takes off?

Economists see several reasons why 2015 might be a banner year for homebuying — and not just in San Francisco and Miami.

They also see One Big Factor that potentially could block a buying binge.

Before considering that possible downer, let’s first look at the upside:

Employers are hiring again.

When companies are hiring, would-be homebuyers feel more confident about taking on mortgage debt.

During the recession, companies kept slashing positions, sending the unemployment rate soaring to 10 percent and frightening potential homebuyers. But job growth has been strong lately, with employers adding 321,000 jobs in November. The unemployment rate has tumbled to 5.8 percent.

As that good news sinks in, optimism is rising. The Conference Board’s latestConsumer Confidence Index shows confidence is running 19.5 percent higher than a year ago.

Home prices just took a breather, which helps.

From January to October, home prices rose 4.5 percent nationally, according to the latest S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index. That gain was subdued compared with October 2013, when home prices jumped 11 percent higher than the previous year.