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Housing Starts and Building Permit Applications Declining

Everything has slowed

constructionResidential housing building permits authorized are down nearly 25% down from October 2008 while housing starts were down 30.7% from October 2008 and down 6.8% from September of this year. Not surprisingly, housing completions are down 30% below October 2008 as well, according to the US Commerce Department.

With permits, starts and completions down so drastically in just one short year, the real estate industry is feeling the pain of the recession.

Washington, D.C. area Realtor, Craig Barrett said, “it honestly shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that housing starts, permits, and completions are down with unemployment and underemployment where it is.”

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Matt Stigliano

    November 23, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Lani – I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this… With the new tax credit being extended to April and the large production builders always eager to advertise it like crazy and use it as a selling point, do you think the possibility exists that housing starts will pick up with the builders assuming they will have the market for their inventory? With an average home taking between 3 and 5 months to build (meaning they’d be complete in mid-February or mid April), I wonder if builders (at least the ones that have the capital to do so) would begin another cycle of overbuilding. Obviously, if they do, this could be troublesome heading into Summer 2010.

    Just a thought I’ve been wondering about.

  2. Lani Rosales

    November 23, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Well there are many people more qualified to opine here, but my gut feeling is that because lending is soooo tight and inventory already exists, many builders will not have the option to build a glut of homes because the cash flow just isn’t there, so until these sitting homes are sold, many won’t have the capacity to build more since their hands are tied. Will some of the big boys predict a spike this spring? I personally doubt it- builder confidence is still down, so the sentiment is pretty unanimous= sell current inventory or die, not build on top of current inventory and wish upon a star.

    Anyone else want to weigh in?

  3. BawldGuy

    November 23, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Lord I hate it when I can’t elude the need to use a cliché, but in this instance it’s inescapable. All real estate is local. (Apologies to those wincing.)

    The nation’s largest builder just broke ground a couple months ago on 1,000 new homes. They appear about to crush more dirt clods on another 800 in the same region. Counter intuitive wouldn’t ya say? True enough in the macro view, but not when you look at the data they analyzed to arrive at the decision to put shovel to dirt.

    Applying macro realities to real estate as it relates to wildly different local markets is almost always a lesson in, well, micro reality. 🙂 This is why I left San Diego in a virtual sense almost six years ago — that market made no sense for investors whatsoever, no matter how contorted your analytical approach.

    As much as some markets suck like a turbo-charged Dyson, others are seeing rents rise, prices hold relatively firm, and appraisals come in at contract price. If I’d stayed in San Diego I’d of been a checker at Von’s by now for sure. But I eschewed the macro view when analyzing a product demanding micro analytics as it relates to location.

    Make sense?

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