Condos lead housing sales, starts
January 24, 2007,
Washington -- Helped by warmer weather and lower asking prices for homes, housing starts jumped up by 4.5% in December, but the gain was all in condominium and apartment construction while the key market for single-family homes fell off by 4.1%, the Commerce Department reported.
But builders continued to hedge their bets on the bigger market for single-family homes, and starts there fell by 4.1% to a seasonally adjusted level of 1.2 million units as developers worked to rein in inventories as prices tapered off.
Single-family starts are now off more than 32% from a 13-month high of 1.8 million units in January 2006.
In a sign that builders are growing more bullish, developers took out building permits at an accelerated rate in December, the pace increasing by 5.5%, to 1.6 million units. Single-family home permits edged up by 1.2%, but were sharply outpaced by permits for apartments and condominiums, which shot up by 19.0%, but remained 7.1% beneath their year-ago level.