- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
U.S. home construction in 2012 highest in 4 years
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. builders started work on homes in December at the fastest pace since the summer of 2008 and finished 2012 as their best year for residential construction since the early stages of the housing crisis.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that builders broke ground on houses and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000. That's 12.1 percent higher than November's annual rate and nearly double the recession low reached in April 2009.
For the year, builders started work on 780,000 homes. That's still roughly half of the annual number of starts consistent with healthier markets. But it is an increase of 28.1 percent from 2011. And it is the most since 2008 — shortly after the housing market began to collapse in late 2006 and 2007.
Steady job gains, record-low mortgage rates and a tight supply of new and previously occupied homes available for sale have helped boost sales and prices in most markets. That has made builders more confident.
"The strong rise in single-family starts is a clear indication of builder confidence in the sales outlook," said Pierre Ellis, an economist at Decision Economics, in a note to clients.
In December, the pace of single-family home construction, which makes up two-thirds of the market, increased 8 percent. It is now 75 percent higher than the recession low reached in March 2009.
Apartment construction, which is more volatile, surged 23 percent last month.
Applications for building permits, a sign of future construction, inched up to a rate of 903,000 — a 4½ year high.
Confidence among homebuilders held steady in January at the highest level in nearly seven years. But builders are feeling slightly less optimistic about their prospects for sales over the next six months, according to a survey released Wednesday.
In November, sales of previously occupied homes rose to their highest level in three years, while new-home sales reached a 2½-year high.
Those factors have helped make homebuilders more confident and spurred new home construction. But homebuilders' are still warily watching the current standoff in Washington between President Barack Obama and Congress over several approaching budget deadlines, including the need to boost the nation's $16.4 trillion borrowing limit.
Though new homes represent less than 20 percent of the housing sales market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to data from the homebuilders association.
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Craigslist killers: Police say newlyweds stabbed man for thrills
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Entertainment News and Reviews from Washington, D.C. and beyond.
Great discoveries in the world of restaurants and chefs fulfill the quest for delicious food and cooking.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Red Alert focuses on the hottest political topics in the nation and calls Americans to action.
White House pets gone wild!