Starts rise from May to June but fall 27% year-over-year

Starts rise from May to June but fall 27% year-over-year
Housing starts were down about 26.9 percent year-over-year in June, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today, while building-permit authorizations fell about 23.9 percent. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of privately owned housing units authorized by building permits was 1.09 million in June, up about 11.6 percent compared to the revised May rate. The rate of housing starts was 1.07 million, up about 9.1 percent compared to the revised May estimate. Housing completions, at a rate of 1.17 million, were up about 1.2 percent compared to the May estimate and down about 21.7 percent compared to June 2007.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for typical seasonal fluctuations in construction activity. The agencies note that month-to-month changes can show irregular movements, and it can take several months to establish an underlying trend.

The annual adjusted rate of single-family starts, at 647,000 in June, fell 5.3 percent from May — it was the slowest pace in 17 years. Single-family building permits dropped 3.5 percent compared to May.

Miller Samuel releases Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island reports
The Prudential Douglas Elliman Brooklyn Market Overview report, prepared by appraisal firm Miller Samuel, revealed that the median sales price slipped 1.9 percent to $525,000 in the second quarter compared to $535,000 in the same quarter last year. The average sales price increased 2.4 percent to $588,441 from last year’s quarterly result of $574,454, and sales dropped from 3,601 units sold in second-quarter 2007 to 2,031 units sold in second-quarter 2008 — a 43.6 percent decrease.

In a separate report on the Long Island and Queens housing market, Miller Samuel reported that the average sales price rose 0.07 percent year-over-year in the second quarter, to $509,913; the median sales price was up 0.1 percent; and sales fell 5.3 percent to 8,237 units. In Manhattan, the number of residential sales continued to fall from the last year’s high.

Survey shows market strengthening despite price drops
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a real estate network with about 700 U.S. member companies and 38 international members, this week released a survey of its members which found that 59 percent of U.S. respondents report strengthening in the real estate market in the past 60 days, even considering typical seasonal fluctuations. One-third of respondents said that foreclosure properties have had a significant impact on prices in their market areas, and 20 percent of responding brokers reported that inventory has declined compared to year-ago levels. About 82 percent of respondents reported that prices have fallen in the past year, with 75 percent of those respondents reporting that the decline was below 10 percent and 33 percent reporting that it was under 5 percent.

About 31 percent of respondents said that the mid-range "move-up" market was slowest, 55 percent said the high-end market was slowest, and 13 percent said the first-time buyer market was the most listless, according to the survey results. Leading Real Estate Companies of the World members have about 5,000 offices and 145,000 sales associates, and sell an estimated $400 billion in home sales annually.

Schwarzenegger buys more time for builders
California home builders on Wednesday thanked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for quickly signing legislation designed to give builders and slumping housing markets more time to turn around before local project authorizations expire.

SB 1185, which Schwarzenegger signed shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, extends the lives of hundreds of subdivision maps in California that have been approved by cities and counties for one year, giving the industry more time to begin construction on nearly 250,000 homes and apartments, and authorize local governments to extend the maps by an additional year. A number of builders had reported that their maps would expire at midnight Tuesday.

The bill is crucial because once a subdivision map expires, builders are often forced to begin the lengthy local government approval process all over again, which in many cases can typically take five to seven years.

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