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MONDAY MORNING BRIEFING

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Builder Confidence Continues to Improve in January Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes continued to climb for a fourth consecutive month in January, rising four points to 25 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released on Jan. 18. The latest survey brings the HMI to its highest level since June of 2007. Each of the HMI's three component indexes also posted a fourth consecutive increase, with the component gauging current sales conditions up three points to 25, (its highest point since June of 2007), the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months rising three points to 29 (highest since September 2009) and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers up three points to 21 (also highest since June 2007). This good news comes on the heels of several months of gains in single-family housing starts and sales, and is yet another indication of the gradual but steady improvement that is beginning to take hold in an increasing number of housing markets nationwide. The HMI also posted gains in all four regions in January, including a nine-point gain to 23 in the Northeast, a one-point gain to 24 in the Midwest, a two-point gain to 27 in the South and a five-point gain to 21 in the West. According to NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, builders are seeing greater interest among potential buyers as employment and consumer confidence slowly improve in a growing number of markets, and this has helped to move the confidence gauge up from near-historic lows in the first half of 2011. Single-Family Housing Starts Rise 4.4% in December Newly released figures from the U.S. government this week reveal that single-family housing starts increased for a third consecutive month in December to hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 470,000 units -- their fastest pace since April of 2010. The good news of this 4.4% gain was somewhat masked by the overall rate of housing starts reported for the month, which fell 4.1% to 657,000 units due to a big dip on the multifamily side. However, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe hastened to explain that the 20.4% decline in multifamily starts to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 187,000 units in December simply brought that sector back to trend, and that apartment production is continuing to gain strength after posting a greater-than 50% rebound in 2011 from the pace set in 2010. Otherwise, said Dave, "This report is in keeping with our expectations for slow but steady improvement in the single-family market," where production hit its lowest yearly rate since the 1940s in 2011. Speaking of the year 2011 as a whole, combined single- and multifamily housing production was pegged at 606,900 units, which was 3.4% better than the overall number in 2010. Regionally speaking, December housing starts (combined single- and multifamily units) rose 54.8% in the Midwest but posted a 41.2% decline in the Northeast, a 3.0% decline in the South and a 17.6% decline in the West. Also reported by the Commerce Department, December permit issuance held virtually flat at a 679,000-unit rate in December, with single-family permits up for the third month in a row, by 1.8% to 444,000 units, and multifamily permits down 3.7% to 235,000 units for the month. Regionally, permits rose 5.8% in the Midwest, held unchanged in the West, declined 6.5% in the Northeast and edged down 0.6% in the South in December. Choose From More Than 400 House Designs and House Plans We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and Colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classics house designs are gentrified New England-style cottages that range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.

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  • Joanne Loftus
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