Friday, May 16, 2008

April Starts Down 31%

Housing starts in April dipped 30.5% from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.03 million units, according to the most recent figures from the Census Bureau. However, that figure was up 8.2% from March's pace.
Single family starts remained mired in the doldrums, down 42.1% from last April's pace at a rate of 692,000 units.
Through the first four months of 2008, some 321,000 homes had been started across the country, down 29.8% from the same period of 2007.
Permits in April were down 32.9% from the same month last year to a rate of 978,000 units. Single family permits for the month were down 39.9% from April, 2007 to a rate of 646,000 permits per year.
Through the end of April, just under 320,000 permits had been issued, down 35,1% from the first four months last year.
In separate news, builders remained downbeat in May, as the National Association of Home Builders' Builder Confidence Index dipped to one of its lowest points ever. “Despite the Federal Reserve’s concerted efforts to lower short-term interest rates, free up credit markets and shore up the national economy, the housing market has shown no evidence of improvement thus far. In fact, conditions have continued to deteriorate in recent times,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders. “The latest HMI shows that even fewer builders now foresee market conditions improving over the next six months compared with our April survey, and builder ratings of buyer traffic through model homes also have dropped off over the past month on a seasonally adjusted basis. This certainly adds fuel to the argument that targeted policy stimulus, in the form of a temporary tax credit for home buyers, is essential to halt the housing downswing and remove the heavy drag being exerted by housing on overall economic growth.”

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