Housing starts stuck under 550,000
The Department of Commerce’s residential construction report released today shows both total starts and single-family starts for March are up over February, but way down compared with March 2010.
March housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 549,000, up 7.2% from February, but down 13.4% from the same month last year.
Single-family starts were reported at a pace of 422,000, up 7.7% compared with February, but down 21.1% compared with March 2010.
On an unadjusted basis, there were an estimated 45,900 total housing starts in March.
Also on an unadjusted basis, the first three months of 2011 have yielded 121,000 housing starts, compared with 134,300 in the first three months of 2010. With the first quarter of 2011 running at a 9.9% decrease, early forecasts of a 20% gain in 2011 housing starts look increasingly bullish. And to add perspective to the numbers: March 2011 was the second slowest March on record — only March 2009, with its pace of 520,000 starts, was slower in terms of residential construction.
Building permits were up 2.6% to a March rate of 594,000. But this seasonally adjusted annual rate was also down double digits — 13.3% — from the March 2010 estimate.
Builders urge Congress to open up credit
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has asked members to contact Congress in support of legislation to open up lines of credit for new-housing production.
The association sent an alert to members, encouraging them to ask their representatives to co-sponsor the Home Construction Lending Regulatory Improvement Act.
"As we move into the spring home-buying season, builders and developers across the country continue to suffer from a severe lack of credit for viable home-building projects, which has major implications for the economy as a whole,” said NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen. “With scores of housing markets nationwide starting to show signs of improvement, this legislation recognizes that there is an urgent need to expand the flow of credit to builders in these communities to meet demand and keep the expansion moving ahead.”
According to the NAHB, the bill — sponsored by by Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) and Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) — targets specific regulatory obstacles to credit availability for the home-building industry. For instance, it seeks to cease implementing a 100% capital bank lending limit for Acquisition, Development and Construction (AD&C) loans as a “hard” limit, and utilize the 100% of capital guideline as it was intended.
ENAP recognizes Vendors of the Year
New Windsor, N.Y.-based lumber and building material co-operative ENAP has announced its 2011 Building Products Vendors of the Year honorees.
Award recipients, presented for each division of the ENAP Building Products departments, were GAF Materials Corp. in the commodities division, United Pipe & Steel in the specialties division, Boston Cedar in the millwork division, and Masterbrand Cabinets in the kitchen and bath division. Awards were presented at breakfast at the ENAP 44th Annual Meeting & Trade Show at Disney’s Coronado Springs in Orlando, Fla.
“The past few years’ economic conditions have been challenging to say the least, but together our companies have been able to grow, work past these difficult times and cultivate new relationships and improve on existing relationships,” commented E. L. (Bud) Krusa, National Accounts Manager, GAF Materials Corp.
Steve Matlon, director of national accounts for Masterbrand Cabinets, stated: “MasterBrand Cabinets has enjoyed a long relationship with ENAP, and we’ve worked very closely over the years to increase our market presence through their members. More recently, ENAP has taken on our entire portfolio of brands, which has greatly increased our business and brought our two organizations even closer. We look forward to further growth with ENAP.”