A forecast report released Tuesday by the National Association of Home Builders projects that the state of Florida and metro areas within the state will experience the steepest declines in housing starts this year compared to last year. Nationwide, total housing starts are expected to drop 24.8 percent this year compared to last year and fall 11.9 percent year-over-year in 2008, while rising 12.5 percent year-over-year in 2009. Housing starts in Florida are projected to fall from 198,900 in 2006 to 103,300 this year, a 48.1 percent drop, the builders group reported. And Florida is home to nine of 10 U.S. metro areas with the sharpest projected drop in housing starts from 2006 to 2007. The Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Fla., metro area topped that list, with a projected 67.5 percent decline this year compared to 2006. Next on the list was the Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., metro area, with a 61.4 percent projected drop. The other metro areas on the top 10 list are expected to see a 50 percen...
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