Georgia is home to four of the 10 counties with the highest rate of growth in the number of housing units, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Thursday. Next, with three counties among the group, is neighboring Florida.

The estimates cover the July 1, 2003 to July 1, 2004 period and show the four Georgia counties to be Henry (ranking fourth), Newton (fifth), Paulding (ninth) and Fannin (10th). Henry, Newton and Paulding counties are located in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metropolitan area. Fannin is situated along the border with Tennessee and North Carolina.

The county that ranked first on this list was Flagler, Fla., where the number of housing units increased 13.9 percent. The two other counties in Florida that made the top 10 were St. Lucie, ranked seventh, and Sumter, eighth. Rounding out the top 10 were Madison, Idaho (second); Loudoun, Va. (third); and Pinal, Ariz. (sixth).

The United States had an estimated 122.7 million housing units as of July 1, 2004. That represented an increase of 1.7 million, or 1.4 percent, since July 1, 2003. The increase since Census Day (April 1, 2000) was 6.8 million, or 5.8 percent.

Maricopa (Phoenix), Ariz., was the biggest numerical gainer among counties, adding 45,000 homes over the period. It was followed by Harris (Houston), Texas, and Clark (Las Vegas), Nev., which gained 38,000 and 35,000 units, respectively.

At the state level, four of the five states that had the most rapid housing growth are located in the West: Nevada (first with a growth rate of 4.5 percent); Arizona (second at 3 percent); Utah (third at 2.6 percent); and Idaho (fifth at 2.5 percent). Florida, with a 2.5 percent increase, ranked fourth.

Florida topped the list of the states adding the highest number of housing units, gaining nearly 200,000 homes over the period. Following Florida were Texas (173,000), California (169,000), Georgia (89,000) and Arizona (70,000).

The estimates are based on Census 2000 counts carried forward by administrative records such as building permits.

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