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On April 17th, the Census Bureau released March SF Housing Starts which were 22.7% higher than February 2012 and 8.5% higher than March 2011. March starts are used to develop our April market size in residential new construction. So for fiscal 2012 YTD SF starts have increased 12.9% compared to fiscal 2011 YTD. Regionally, all areas saw improvements over March 2011, and all regions are positive YTD relative to a year ago.
Multi-Family starts were (-4.4%) lower than February 2012, and were 11.0% higher than March 2011. Year to date Multi-Family is +56.1% over last year.
In other related news, builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes declined for the first time in seven months this April, sliding three notches to 25 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The decline brings the index back to where it was in January, which was the highest level since 2007. Each of the index’s components registered declines in April. The component gauging current sales conditions and the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months fell three points, to 26 and 32, respectively, while the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers fell four points to 18.
“What we’re seeing is essentially a pause in what had been a fairly rapid build-up in builder confidence that started last September,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This is partly because interest expressed by buyers in the past few months has yet to translate into expected sales activity, but is also reflective of the ongoing challenges that are slowing the housing recovery – particularly tight credit conditions for builders and buyers, competition from foreclosures and problems with obtaining accurate appraisals.”
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