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New-Home Sales Decline 1.6 Percent in February

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March 23, 2012 - Sales of newly built, single-family homes slowed 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000 units in February, according to data jointly released by HUD and the U.S. Commerce Department today. “While many builders are seeing more traffic through their model homes as the spring buying season gets underway, tight lending conditions and appraisal issues continue to pose significant obstacles to prospective purchasers,” noted Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “These hurdles are definitely slowing the momentum of the housing and economic recovery.” “To some extent, we believe that exceptionally good weather conditions in December helped pull some home sales forward that would otherwise have occurred in January and February, which partially accounts for the declines we’ve seen at the beginning of this year,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, the February sales rate is still 11.4 percent above its year-ago level, and the quarterly average sales pace is at a two-year high. Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale remains at an all-time record low, in part because of the lack of available financing for new-home production.” Crowe also noted that the sales report indicated greater buying activity in the above-$200,000 range in February. This suggests that those who have higher incomes and can more easily qualify for a mortgage are the ones who are moving forward with a home purchase, while first-timers who are looking in the lower price ranges may be having a tougher time getting qualified, he said. Regionally, new-home sales increased 14.3 percent in the Northeast and 8.0 percent in the West, but declined 2.4 percent in the Midwest and 7.2 percent in the South in February. Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale held unchanged at a record low of 150,000 units in February. This is a 5.8-month supply at the current sales pace.

NAHB Identifies Top Counties for Residential Remodeling March 22, 2012 - Los Angeles County, Calif., leads the nation in total county remodeling expenditures per year at $8.4 billion, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Meanwhile, regarding remodeling dollars spent per household, Nantucket County, Mass., ranks highest with a yearly average of $8,520. “Residential remodeling is one of the housing industry’s bright spots, and in some parts of the country this is more true now than ever,” said NAHB Remodelers Chairman George “Geep” Moore Jr., GMB, CAPS, GMR and owner/president of Moore-Built Construction & Restoration Inc. in Elm Grove, La. “The level of remodeling activity varies by region and town, but home owners throughout the country are increasingly choosing to renovate their homes or build additions to meet their changing lifestyles.”

While the average value across all counties nationwide for total remodeling expenditures per year is $66 million, the following is a breakdown of top counties by region: • West: Los Angeles County, Calif., $8.4 billion • Midwest: Cook County, Ill., $4 billion • Northeast: Nassau County, N.Y., $1.9 billion • South: Miami-Dade County, Fla., $1.7 billion The average amount spent on remodeling projects per household nationwide is $1,907. The top counties by region for remodeling spending per home are as follows: • Northeast: Nantucket County, Mass., $8,520 • West: Marin County, Calif., $7,782 • South: Falls Church City, Va., $6,099 • Midwest: Cook County, Ill., $3,466

“Nationally, we’re forecasting a continued increase in the demand for residential repairs and improvements,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Based on our analysis of the remodeling spending numbers, we are able to identify areas of the country where our members can take advantage of this growing opportunity. The county estimates also include useful information on the local conditions that influence remodeling spending—particularly the number, age and value of owner-occupied homes.” The NAHB model uses data from the American Housing Survey—which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau—to estimate local remodeling based on home and home owner characteristics. It is then applied to the information on every county’s homes and home owners that the Census Bureau released late last year from its American Community Survey. A list of the top five counties for remodeling spending and average remodeling spending per home in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West regions is available www.nahb.org/topremodelingcounties. To search all counties, visit www.nahb.org/countydata.

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  • Joanne Loftus
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