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Sun comes out for housing starts

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home sales should bottom out by the end of the first quarter of 2008, and housing starts are expected to start rising in the third quarter, according to the most recent forecast of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Speaking at an Oct. 24 housing conference, NAHB economist David Seiders pointed to a number of positive economic factors, including job growth, controlled inflation and short-term interest rate cuts.

The NAHB is predicting 828,000 new single-family homes for 2007 and 781,000 for 2008, a 5.6 percent decline. Total housing starts are expected to register 1.36 million this year and 1.2 million next year, an 11.9 percent decline.

Addressing the subprime mortgage crisis, Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody’s, predicted that certain regions of the country would receive more negative fallout than others. Among them are Arizona; California; Florida; Nevada; Boston; Washington, D.C.; the New Jersey coast; and the Carolinas.

Michael Moran, chief economist of Securities America, pointed out that subprime loans hold a 13.5 share of the mortgage market, and only 20 percent of these loans are “under stress.”

Most recently, the U.S. Commerce Department released housing starts data showing September saw the slowest pace of new residential building in 14 years (since March 1993) when 1.08 million units were under construction in the United States.

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Lowe’s offers matching funds for California disaster relief

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Eighty-five California Lowe’s stores have announced they will serve as official cash donation sites for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund through Nov. 30.

In light of the seven wildfires that burned more than half a million acres across seven counties in Southern California, Lowe’s said it will match the in-store donations up to a total of $50,000.

In addition, Lowe’s stores in communities hit hardest by the disaster have donated bottled water and other products to firefighters and local emergency shelters, the company said.

“Lowe’s is a long-time, valued and committed partner of the American Red Cross. This relationship is critical to our ability to respond to disasters such as the California wildfires,” said Kristine Templin, director of corporate partnerships at the American Red Cross.

“Money raised through the Lowe’s customer donation program will help the Red Cross provide for people’s basic needs such as food, shelter, counseling and other assistance following any disaster,” she added.

Since partnering with the American Red Cross in 1999, Lowe’s has donated more than $17.5 million to aid relief efforts.

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Menards store on deck in western Illinois

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Menards is planning a new 162,340-square-foot store in Quincy, Ill., according to a report in the Quincy Herald-Whig newspaper.

The total store would encompass 240,000 square feet, including a garden center and lumberyard. The store also will sell groceries, according to the report. Several new Menards stores throughout the Midwest have begun offering convenience grocery items in the past year.

Marv Prochaska, vp-real estate for Menards, told the newspaper the store is expected to open in 2009.

Quincy, Ill., is located on the far western border of Illinois near Hannibal, Mo.

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