Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Housing News Digest, March 20

Builders start fewer homes, but permits jump

WASHINGTON — U.S. builders started work on slightly fewer homes in February. But they began laying the ground work for a turnaround later this year by requesting the most building permits in any month since October 2008.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 homes last month. That's down 1.1 percent from January's revised level of 706,000, the highest since October 2008

Using Seasonal Data to Predict Colorado Foreclosures in 2012
The latest report from foreclosure monitoring firm Realty Trac shows nationwide, overall foreclosure activity dipped slightly in February. And the trend is similar in Colorado, with foreclosure auctions down by almost 7%.

Housing officials do expect activity to pick up somewhat, now that the multi-billion dollar mortgage settlement has been inked. But it’s difficult to predict just how much of an increase Colorado will see.

An improved job market and consumer and business confidence means that Colorado may see an extra $164.5 million in pocket at the end of the next fiscal year, according to the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB).

Colorado revises budget projections, finds an extra $164.5 mil

While the improvement in the job picture as well as projections for better spending and investments by households and businesses are fueling the predictions of a higher-than-expected state general revenue fund, the net increased to the fund will only be $149 million due to declining severance tax revenue.

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless housing in Thornton gets water-saving makeover during EPA’s ‘Fix a Leak’ Week

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency joined Delta Faucet Co., and Bell Plumbing & Heating to provide Renaissance 88 Apartments, a Colorado Coalition for the Homeless apartment building in Thornton, Colo. with a water-saving makeover. The retrofits and leak repairs taken at the apartment complex will save 560,000 gallons of water per year, enough to fill fifty backyard swimming pools.

How Housing Prices Burden the Economy
Q.When I last looked at the ratio of the nationwide average house price to the median household income, I believe it had nearly returned to its average from 1970 to 2000, which was about three. The bubble was not totally gone, but it mostly seemed to be. Do you think housing is too expensive — in a way that statistic doesn’t capture? Or do you think the problem is too much variation, with some places, like the Acela corridor and the California coast (where many good jobs are), costing too much relative to others?

A.The national average masks enormous variation. Once bubble mania receded, we had a country that contained plenty of affordable places to live. The problem is that those places aren’t necessarily where the job opportunities are. Wages and incomes are generally highest in the big coastal metropolises where housing is scarce and prices are high. That leaves us with lots of people migrating to Sun Belt cities where wages are low and lots of newspaper stories about high-income individuals in big coastal cities who don’t “feel” rich, because the cost of living — which is driven by real estate — is so very high.