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December's Housing Numbers


Winter real estate

December's Housing Numbers – What Do They Mean for You? - Is the housing market truly recovering? You hear news reports every day telling you that it is, but how do you really know what’s going on? One way to tell is by looking at the number of new residences under construction in any given month. And according to statistics in a new report, December was a month where a lot of paperwork was filed, land was cleared, foundations were built, and homes were completed!

Each month, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development release statistics analyzing the number of building permits, housing starts, and housing completions. The December report just came out, and it showed an increase in all three phases of new home construction.

Before construction can begin on any project, the builders must be approved with a permit. In December, the number of single-family permit authorizations was up 1.8% from November. When you compare the number of permits approved in December 2012 to those approved in December 2011, the increase was even higher – 27.3%. According to the report, there were 578,000 single-family authorizations nationwide in December, and an additional 301,000 authorizations for buildings with five or more units (like apartments and condos). This proves that consumers and developers have more confidence in the housing market than they did a year ago.

It was much of the same with new housing starts.
The report states that construction began on 616,000 single-family residences in December, and builders also broke ground on 330,000 multiple-family units during the month. The single-family unit rate is up a whopping 8.1% from November and is 18.5% above the level seen in December 2011, but is still well below figures from the housing peak in 2006. In fact, it’s 66.21% lower than it was back in 2006. Still, though, when you’re dealing with a housing market that’s trying to recover, any increase is a good one!

As for the final stage of home construction, the report indicates that single-family completions in December were at a rate of 535,000, while the rate for buildings with five or more units was 144,000.

In all, an estimated 651,400 housing units were completed in 2012.  That's an 11.4% increase from the 2011 figures, when construction was completed on an estimated 584,900 units nationwide.

So, what do all of these numbers mean?
There are always going to be people who want to build a new home, or purchase one being built by a developer, but wanting to build a new home and actually doing it are two different things. When the economy is down, consumers lose faith in the housing market, or they simply can't afford to buy a new home, so the number of new home constructions drops off.

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