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A closer look at new housing numbers

Alisa Roth May 16, 2008
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A closer look at new housing numbers

Alisa Roth May 16, 2008
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TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: After all that gloom and doom over the worst housing downturn in more than two decades, a ray of hope dawns on new home construction. It’s the biggest increase in more than two years. It’s almost tempting to break out the happy music.

Happy Music: You’re out of the woods, you’re out of the dark, you’re out of the night. Step into the sun, step into the light.

But hold on, because this rare bit of good news may not be all it appears to be. Marketplace’s Alisa Roth has been taking a closer look at the numbers out this morning.


Alisa Roth: New housing starts were up more than 8 percent last month. That’s because of new apartments being built. More people are renting these days, and there’s been a shortage of multifamily units lately.

But the numbers for single-family homes were down, which economists say is probably a better indication of how the market’s really doing.

Chris Low: Typically, if single family is still moving in one direction or another. That’s the way that the headline’s going to go. Multifamily construction tends to be pretty volatile.

Chris Low is an economist at FTN Financial. He says the total multifamily number for April is still lower than it was in February and that generally, the housing news is still worrying.

Low: Housing ties into almost every one of the bigger stories that relate to the developing recession.

Meanwhile, in other housing news, Fannie Mae just announced it’s lowering requirements for down payments on mortgages in areas where house prices are falling.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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