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Home construction on the rise nationally

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U.S. home construction rebounded in July, rising to the fastest pace in eight months and offering hope that housing has regained momentum after two months of declines.

Construction increased 15.7 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million homes, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. That was the fastest pace since November and followed declines of 4 percent in June and 7.4 percent in May.

Applications for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, also showed strength in July, advancing 8.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.05 million, after declines of 3.1 percent in June and 5.1 percent in May.

The national results conflicted with the trend in central Indiana. The Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis said last week that filings for single-family building permits in the nine-county metro area dropped 5 percent in July.

July's national rebound reflected strength in single-family home construction, which rose 8.3 percent, and in apartment construction, which was up 33 percent.

The strength in July was led by a 44-percent rise in construction starts in the Northeast. Housing construction was up 29 percent in the South, recovering from a 26.8-percent plunge the month before blamed in part on heavy rains in that part of the country. Sales rose 18.6 percent in the West but fell 24.8 percent in the Midwest.

Economists noted that the July performance was much better than expected, and June was revised significantly higher, both good signs for the future.

Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said solid job growth and a recent decline in mortgage rates were helping boost construction. But he said weak wage growth and tight lending standards were still depressing activity, especially among first-time buyers.

A report Monday indicated homebuilders are feeling more confident about their sales prospects, a hopeful sign that home construction and sales of newly built homes could pick up after stalling in recent months.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose in August to 55, up two points from a revised 53 for July. That is the third straight monthly increase and put the index at its highest reading since January, when it was 56. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor.

Builders' views of current sales conditions for single-family homes, their outlook for sales over the next six months and traffic by prospective buyers all increased in August, brightening the outlook.

Sales of new homes are running behind last year's pace. They fell 8.1 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000.

A mix of rising home prices, higher mortgage rates and weak wage growth have made it more difficult for potential buyers to buy a newly built home. These factors have particularly depressed demand by first-time buyers.

But economists are still looking for a rebound, given the fact that the U.S. economy has been adding jobs at a healthy clip with gains topping 200,000 jobs for six straight months through July.

Housing, while still a long way from the boom of the last decade, has been recovering over the past two years. Though new homes represent only a fraction of the housing 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 Home Builders.

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  • The color is GREEN
    last time I checked, minimum wage jobs do not buy homes and Indiana is giving tax breaks to companies that hire workers at low pay, AND cutting education again and again so that all we produce are uneducated peons who are not worth more. WE NEED TO WAKE UP (perhaps shouting will help.....sigh) Our government is so out of touch it is shameful

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  1. So as I read this the one question that continues to come to me to ask is. Didn't Indiana only have a couple of exchanges for people to opt into which were very high because we really didn't want to expect the plan. So was this study done during that time and if so then I can understand these numbers. I also understand that we have now opened up for more options for hoosiers to choose from. Please correct if I'm wrong and if I'm not why was this not part of the story so that true overview could be taken away and not just parts of it to continue this negative tone against the ACA. I look forward to the clarity.

  2. It's really very simple. All forms of transportation are subsidized. All of them. Your tax money already goes toward every single form of transportation in the state. It is not a bad thing to put tax money toward mass transit. The state spends over 1,000,000,000 (yes billion) on roadway expansions and maintenance every single year. If you want to cry foul over anything cry foul over the overbuilding of highways which only serve people who can afford their own automobile.

  3. So instead of subsidizing a project with a market-driven scope, you suggest we subsidize a project that is way out of line with anything that can be economically sustainable just so we can have a better-looking skyline?

  4. Downtowner, if Cummins isn't getting expedited permitting and tax breaks to "do what they do", then I'd be happy with letting the market decide. But that isn't the case, is it?

  5. Patty, this commuter line provides a way for workers (willing to work lower wages) to get from Marion county to Hamilton county. These people are running your restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and retail stores. I don't see a lot of residents of Carmel working these jobs.

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