Single-family starts challenged by weather, financing

Bad weather deserves part of the blame for the decline in January single-family housing starts, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Government data released Wednesday morning showed single-family starts for January at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 413,000, down 1.0% from December. Total starts increased 14.6%. 

"Considering the abnormally poor weather conditions that prevailed across most of the country last month, along with the continuing difficulty that builders are having in obtaining financing for new construction, the fact that single-family starts held virtually unchanged while multi-family starts posted solid gains is encouraging," said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the NAHB and a home builder from Reno, Nev. "Any gain in housing production means more people are being put back to work, and is a sign that builders are preparing for improving demand for new homes in the spring."

NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said the report echoes the sentiment found in builder surveys. "Builders see spotty buyer interest but remain very cautious as credit remains tight and buyer confidence uncertain," he said.

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