Housing Signals Mixed But Upbeat
Building permits for single-family homes surged in the second half of 2011 in states hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis and housing starts hovered near a three-year high in February, signs that the housing market is beginning to stabilize.
Building permits, a proxy for future construction, increased to a 717,000 annual pace in February, the highest since October 2008, the Commerce Department report says. Experts had predicted a 686,000 annual rate rise.
Census Bureau data compiled by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation show that permits in the hardest hit states of Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Florida increased in a range of 16.1% to 26% in the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2010, with Florida showing the most significant rise at 26%.
Housing starts dropped 1.1% in February but remained 34.7% above levels reached a year earlier. The emphasis continues on multifamily construction, which showed a 21% increase. Starts on single-family homes were down more than 9% last month.
Economists say homebuilding remains congested by deeply discounted foreclosures and short sales, as well as a continuing inventory of foreclosed homes. But they say growing housing demand and continued employment growth are likely to improve market conditions later in the year.
In another area, sales of existing homes dipped in February, but the sales pace was the best in five years, statistics from the National Association of Realtors show. Home sales fell 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.59 million, down from a revised 4.63 million sold in January -- the highest level since May 2010. Sales have been helped by a mild winter and stronger job market.
But sales remain below the 6 million that economists equate with healthy markets. Sales among first-time homebuyers fell to 32% of all purchases, below the 40% that signals a healthy market.
At the same time, the supply of homes nationally has dropped to its lowest level in seven years. With mortgage rates at near record lows, the dwindling inventory is expected to push up home prices, a lure for buyers wanting to invest in homes appreciating in value.
Login to read the full story or Subscribe now!
Other Recent Stories
If Congress embraces the framework of President Donald Trump’s federal spending guidelines for FY 2018, the move would effectively restrain HUD’s new Fair Housing Act enforcement program and accelerate implementation of the Rental Assistance Demonstration program.
If President Donald Trump insists on providing money in the FY 2017 spending bill to build a wall along the U.S. southern border, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer ((D-NY) suggests there could be a government shutdown in May.
A new report in the HUD inspector general’s continuing stream of criticism of department mismanagement says HUD is unable to keep an eye on an FHA $16 billion insurance program covering borrower-financed downpayment assistance programs.
With the National Flood Insurance Program expiring Sept. 30, lawmakers brace for a long fight to renew the law. Lawmakers insist on participation by private insurers to fill an insurance gap created by insurer refusal to write policies unless they have high premiums to cover the risk.
Housing economists say there is little worry the latest hike in the nation’s benchmark interest rate will have a significant fallout on average mortgage rates for the time being.
An upbeat jobs report and the prospect of an increase in the nation’s benchmark interest rate sends mortgage interest rates up again, signaling the days of record low rates below the 4% mark are likely history. The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending
Roiled over the Trump administration’s signal it wants to cut $6 billion from the HUD budget, advocacy groups link to create “CarsonWatch.” The new umbrella group for the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Public Advocates, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law,
The Pacific Legal Foundation challenges Seattle’s new mandate forcing landlords to rent to the first qualified person who applies for a unit. PLC lawyers contend that denying owners the freedom to choose among qualified applicants and to exercise nondiscriminatory discretion
When former HUD Secretary Julian Castro departed Jan. 20, he left his predecessor HUD Secretary Ben Carson with an almost insurmountable financial mess – how to properly account for the billions of dollars the agency gets from Congress to administer its programs.
A draft budget report shows HUD could be in for a $6 billion budget cut for FY 2018, a drastic one-year dip into the department’s spending HAL first reported to you in January but likely not the end-all spending blueprint.