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NAHB: Starts figure reflects low confidence in housing

BY HBSDEALER Staff

As housing starts fell 10.6% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 523,000 units, the National Association of Home Builders said the numbers point to a lack of confidence in the housing market.

“While mortgage rates are low and house prices are as affordable as they’ve been in a generation, the decline in April’s housing starts is indicative of the low level of confidence that consumers have in the housing market,” said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Reno, Nev.

Concerns regarding competition from foreclosures, a lack of consumer confidence in the housing market and the inability to secure production credit caused builders to slow production, the NAHB said.

“Consumers have not yet reached a level of confidence that is strong enough to begin lifting the housing market,” said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. “The fundamentals — such as economic growth and employment — are beginning to shape up and will eventually provide enough momentum to push housing forward at a healthy pace. But until then, builders are unwilling to move forward. The issuance of housing permits, an indication of future housing activity, has remained at about the same level as the first quarter of the year.”

Single-family starts declined 5.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 394,000 units in April, while multi-family starts — which tend to display greater volatility on a month-to-month basis — dropped 24.1% to a rate of 129,000 units after rising 30.8% the month before.

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Consumer trend: DIY pizza

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Retail sales of pizza pans grew 7% in the 12 months ending March 2011, compared to the same time last year, signaling a consumer trend towards making pizzas at home, according to The NPD Group.

Metal pizza pans accounted for 64% of dollar sales during the 12-month period, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service. Stoneware/clay stone pizza pans, the second largest product segment, are outpacing sales of metal pans, however, with a 21% growth.

According to NPD’s National Eating Trends survey, pizzas prepared ‘in home’ increased to 6.4 billion in 2010 from 5.4 billion in 2009. In addition, 43% of U.S. consumers eat pizza at least once in a two-week period.

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Shoplifting suspects set off manhunt

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Stealing merchandise from a home improvement store is not considered a minor crime in Massachusetts, where state police used three K-9 officers and ATVs to chase two suspected shoplifters through the woods on May 15.

According to an article in the Eagle-Tribune, police received a call from a Home Depot store in Salem, Mass., about a shoplifting incident where three men fled in a 2006 gray Chrysler. The suspects ditched the car near an apartment complex shortly after the incident. Massachusetts State Police were able to take one man into custody, but the two other suspects fled into nearby woods.

Three state police dogs were brought in, and Andover police assisted with an ATV unit to patrol the area. As of 7 p.m., the two suspects had not been found. 

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