Nationwide housing starts drop in February

Home construction nationwide slid in February.Data from the Commerce Department this week showed a sense of hesitancy in the home construction market, as both building permits and housing starts fell off sharply.The report found that housing starts fell more than 22 percent in February compared to the previous month, falling to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 479,000 homes. That number was the second lowest since the government began tracking it.Building permits – an indicator of future demand – also slid sharply, dropping 8.2 percent from the previous month to a new record low.”In an already-fragile market where credit for building and buying homes remains extremely tight, additional concerns about energy costs, interest rates and other factors are contributing to an atmosphere in which many have adopted a very cautious stance,” said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.However, new homes in the Houston real estate market have performed far better than in other parts of the country. According to Metrostudy, starts of new Houston homes increased last year following three straight drops, but a higher level of sales led to a roughly balanced inventory.

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