Piedmont Lumber to close
Piedmont Lumber Co., an Oakland, Calif., LBM dealer founded in 1934, auctioned off trucks, office equipment and fittings last week at its Pittsburg store and lumberyard, ending the company’s final chapter in San Francisco’s East Bay.
Piedmont closed its Pittsburg location about 10 months ago, and the Walnut Creek store burned in a March 13 fire; the cause remains under investigation.
The original Oakland store was sold in April to Economy Lumber of Oakland, a competitor.
Housing starts slip in June
June was a tough month for housing starts.
According to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of total housing starts for June stood at 549,000, down 5.0% from the downwardly revised May estimate.
Several estimates were looking for starts in the neighborhood of 570,000 to 580,000. And in another troubling sign, the June figure was also down from the pace of June 2009, when the rate was 583,000.
Also troubling: The June data ended a streak of six consecutive months of year-over-year improvements in housing starts. It was also the first month since October 2009 to show a slower pace than both the previous month and the year-ago month.
Single-family housing starts in June were at a rate of 454,000. This is 0.7% below the revised May rate of 457,000.
On a regional basis, the Northeast had the biggest gain in single-family starts — up 8.5% from a year ago. But total starts in the Northeast declined 20.3%, compared with last year, and declined 11.3% compared with last month.
All the readings from the Midwest were negative — ranging from a decline of 6.9% in month-to-month total starts to a decline of 18.4% in year-over-rear single-family starts.
June building permits were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 586,000, 2.1% above the May rate, but 2.3% below June 2009.
NAHB: Single-family starts find post-tax credit bottom
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) interpreted June housing starts data as a sign that single-family starts may be finding a bottom after the expiration of home buyer tax credits April 30.
“The government’s figures suggest that single-family housing production may be finding a bottom following the tax credits,” agreed NAHB VP and eenior economist Bernard Markstein. “Over the next several months, we expect to see some improvement in both housing starts and sales activity as buyers come forward to take advantage of the very attractive home prices, historically low mortgage rates and excellent selection that characterize today’s new-home marketplace. However, builders continue to confront significant challenges in obtaining financing for viable new projects, and this problem remains a formidable obstacle to economic growth.”
Single-family housing starts were virtually unchanged from the previous month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000 units in June, according to newly released figures by the U.S. Commerce Department. Meanwhile, a 21.5% decline on the more volatile multi–family side weighed down the overall housing production number, which fell 5% to a 549,000-unit rate.
“As our most recent member surveys have indicated, builders remain very cautious in light of the sluggish pace of the economic recovery and the hesitancy they are seeing among potential home buyers,” noted Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “However, today’s report is actually somewhat encouraging, because it indicates that single-family production is stabilizing following an expected lull that occurred with the end of the home buyer tax credit program.”