Created by the federal government during the Great Depression, Fannie Mae became a Washington powerhouse: a highly profitable, private company, protected by the government and boasting huge lobbying clout. But today, Fannie Mae has essentially become a ward of the state. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP hide caption

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The housing market is finally showing signs of a comeback, according to an annual study from Harvard. But, though mortgage interest rates are at record lows, banks are often too cautious to lend. Seth Perlman/AP hide caption

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Srinivas Konanki and his wife own a small laboratory device company near Boston. Concerns about the economy have left them wary of hiring new employees. Chris Arnold/NPR hide caption

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Nationwide, home sales are up, mortgage rates are down and in many places, owning a home is as attractive as renting for the first time in years. Chris O'Meara/AP hide caption

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, homeownership rates got even closer to pre-housing boom numbers in the first quarter of 2012. Steven Senne/AP hide caption

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Renzo Salazar maintains the yard around a foreclosed house in Miami after the bank hired him to keep the home from falling into complete dilapidation. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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