"Nation's Housing Market Strong – on Pace for Record, Though Northwest Declines Slightly"

“The nation’s housing sector is on pace for a record year in new-home sales after registering first quarter increases in building permits, housing starts and completions, according to a report released by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo.U.S. Housing Market Conditions 1st Quarter Report shows that in March new home sales were at the second-highest monthly level ever recorded, and the 1st quarter level was the second highest quarterly value. If this level continues throughout the year, 2000 will be the best year ever for new home sales, Cuomo said.The outstanding performance of our nation’s economy continues to strengthen the housing sector, Cuomo said. This gives more families the opportunity to become homeowners, improves business, and creates jobs in the home building, real estate and lending industries.Cuomo announced that the homeownership rate rose to a record high in the first quarter of 2000, with 67.1 percent of all families owning their homes. A total of 70.7 million American families owned their homes in the first quarter of the year ? more than at any time in American history. In all, 8.9 million more families owned homes in the first quarter of 2000 than in 1993.The HUD report on conditions in January, February and March 2000 found:· Builders sold a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 940,000 new single-family homes in the 1st quarter of 2000. This is 4 percent above the 4th quarter of 1999 and 5 percent over the same period last year, according to HUD figures.· Housing permits in the first quarter increased by 4 percent from the fourth quarter of 1999 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,668,000 housing units.· Housing completions during the first quarter totaled 1,692,000 (SAAR), which is 3 percent above the 4th quarter of 1999 and 4 percent above the first quarter of 1999. Single-family completions were also up 3 percent over the last quarter, and up 4 percent over the 1st quarter of 1999.U.S. Housing Market Conditions brings together data from the housing, real estate, and primary and secondary mortgage markets. Data are collected from housing organizations such as the National Association of Homebuilders, the National Association of Realtors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Other data come from HUD, the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department.Regional market highlights for the 1st quarter of 2000 include:· In the Northwest region the sales housing market started very strong. Boise was up 3 percent in that category compared to the 1st quarter of 1999. Single-family building permit activity was up 15% in Alaska but down in Washington and Oregon, for an overall decrease across the region of 6 percent compared to the same time last year.Bremerton is the highlighted community for the Northwest region.· In the New England region multifamily building permit activity showed a modest increase during the period, with Massachusetts being up 5 percent from the comparable period last year.· In the New York/New Jersey region building permits are up 6 percent over the 1st quarter of 1999. · In the Mid-Atlantic region, existing home sales continued to do very well, despite rising interest rates. Existing home sales were up nearly 6 percent in Virginia from the 1st quarter of 1999.· In the Southeast/Caribbean region residential construction was down overall across the region. Apartment-hunters in places like Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC are finding more units to choose from due to a relatively large number of units both under construction and planned for the area.· In the Midwest region, home construction continued to strengthen in the 1st quarter, with building permits up 8 percent over the 1st quarter of 1999. Activity was up in every state but Indiana.· In the Southwest region single-family home building permits were up 4 percent from the 1st quarter of 1999.· In the Great Plains region single-family home building permit activity was down about 2 percent from the same period a year ago, with all states recording slightly lower levels. New figures out for the year 1999 show that median sale prices for existing homes were up 5.9% in Kansas City, and 7.6% in Omaha .· In the Rocky Mountain region a surge in apartment building activity in Colorado in the first three months of 2000 offset declines in most other states in the region. Despite higher interest rates, existing sales activity was up 7 percent in Denver and up 3 percent in both Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah.· In the Pacific region, multifamily housing building permit activity for the region was up more than 27% compared to the same time last year. Home production continued at a robust pace despite higher interest rates, with single-family housing permits in California up 3.3% over the 1st quarter of 1999.The 1st quarter report also includes an exploratory study of data gleaned from a small sample of HUD-1 forms from FHA files. This Settlement Statement records the money flows that take place when the ownership of a home is transferred from a seller to a buyer.The preliminary results give information about the size and nature of closing costs, such as the mean and median total closing costs.U.S. Housing Market Conditions 1st Quarter Report is available on the Internet at www.huduser.org/periodicals/ushmc.html.”