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More permits open door for homebuilding
WASHINGTON (3/19/14)--While February's Census Bureau numbers may indicate a sluggish housing market, a recent surge in home-construction permits may be foreshadowing a steamy summer season for homebuilders instead (Economy.com March 18).

Housing starts, or the number of homes to begin construction, fell 0.2% in February to 907,000 after January's numbers had been revised a bit higher than previously reported. Compared with February 2013 data, starts have taken a 6.4% dive.

Harsh weather, which largely shut in builders and prevented many new projects from getting off the ground, likely fueled the decline (MarketWatch March 18).

The road ahead may be clearer. Permits for home construction, thanks to multi-family or apartment construction permits, jumped by 7.7% to 1.018 million, which sits 6.9% higher than last year's numbers.

Specifically, multi-family dwelling construction permits leapt 24.3% in February, while permits for single-family homes sank by 1.8%.

A positive trend in home completions also has been bearing out of late, as completion of privately owned housing units neared a post-recession high this month with 886,000 annualized, representing a 4.4% improvement from January and a 21.9% upswing from the prior year.


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