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November 20, 2007

More slowing on the new-home front

New-home permits and starts just keep shrinking, a side effect of record-low levels of builder confidence.

The federal government released numbers today that suggest permits in October were down nearly 25 percent from a year earlier. Housing starts, the number of homes newly under construction, dropped about 16 percent from a year earlier.

But wait, you say: Housing starts in October were higher than they were in September! Up 3 percent! Isn't that good news?

Nope, sorry. The margin of error is nearly 11 percent, plus or minus, so you wouldn't want to bet money that October was actually better than September.

In a statement he put out about the data, economist Charles W. McMillion of MBG Information Services in Washington sums up the big picture for the single-family piece of the market:

There were only 884,000 new single-family homes started in Oct. 2007, the fewest monthly total since October 1991 and -33.8% fewer than the 1,336,000 homes started in January 1959 – the earliest data on record. The 807,000 new permits to construct single-family homes in Oct. 2007 were the fewest since November 1991 and -4.6% lower than in January, 1960 – the earliest data on record.


Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:51 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Number-crunching

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
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