Single-family housing starts in February were at a rate of 499,000, down 0.6% from the revised January 2010 figure of 502,000.
The February rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 58,000. The numbers come from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Today’s single-family numbers are fairly encouraging, in that the level of building activity held firm even as large portions of the country experienced abnormal weather conditions,” noted Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, MI.
Total housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 575,000, putting it 5.9% below the revised January estimate of 611,000 and 0.2% above the February 2009 rate of 574,000.
February U.S. new home building permits, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 612,000, down 1.6% from a revised January rate of 622,000 – but that's still 11.3% above the February 2009 estimate of 550,000.
“This latest data indicates that the single-family sector is gradually finding more stable ground, particularly in light of the poor weather conditions that hampered new building activity in two out of four regions last month and the continued difficulties that builders faced in accessing financing for new projects,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “With the deadline for purchasers to take advantage of home buyer tax credits fast approaching at the end of April, improvement in single-family building activity was expected and may have continued into early March. Moreover, the very thin inventory of new homes now on the market, the pent-up demand from three-plus years of low household formations and good affordability conditions will provide the platform for a 25 percent gain in new-home construction in 2010 over 2009.”
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