One reason people disagree about whether we're in a housing recovery is that people disagree about the data. But another reason is that people disagree about what the subject of discussion is. A lot of middle class homeowners out there would like a "recovery" that boosts their house back up to its 2006 value. But from a labor market viewpoint, the recovery we need is a recovery in construction activity and the Census sees a 2.3 percent increase in August according to data released today.
There is, however, a ton of error in that data set with a confidence interval of over +/- 10 percentage points. But a related good sign is that architectual billings are up which is obviously a close cousin of overall construction activity.