“As anticipated, the effects of the strengthening economy and job market, along with attractive increases in house values, evidently are overriding the higher interest-rate structure as an influence on home buyers,” Seiders said.
Multifamily starts recorded a nearly 10% dip to a 327,000-unit rate, but strong permit issuance in that sector indicates an impending bounce-back. Permit issuance for multifamily units was up for the third consecutive month in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 487,000 units.
Regionally, three of four regions reported declines in housing starts. The West reported a substantial gain, two regions reported increased building permits and two reported declines in permit issuance.
April-May averages revealed significant strength across the board. For the first two months of the second quarter, the pace of housing starts surpassed the first-quarter pace in the Northeast and West and equaled the pace set in the Midwest and South. In terms of building permits, the April-May average surpassed the first-quarter pace in every region.
“Given the solid fundamentals of this marketplace, including relatively thin inventories of unsold units, great house-price performance — for both single-family homes and condos — and excellent demographic projections, we are currently forecasting 1.9 million starts for all of 2004, up about 5% from last year,” said Seiders.
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