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Tag Archives: Census Bureau

Survey: 1 in 5 U.S. Households Reside in a Multifamily Rental

The Census Bureau and HUD released the results of its new 2012 Rental Housing Finance Survey, revealing that one in five American households live in multifamily rental buildings. The survey, which was conducted in the winter and early spring of 2012, found that there are nearly 2.3 million multifamily rental properties in the United States, 67 percent of which are owned by households or individuals. Among other findings: 1,337, or 59.4 percent, of multifamily rental properties examined in the survey have at least one mortgage.

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Gasoline Sales Boost February Retail Activity

Led by a surge in gasoline prices, retail sales rose 1.1 percent in February, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday. Economists had expected an increase of 0.5 percent. In January, retails sales rose 0.2 percent. Gasoline station sales rose 5.0 percent in February after a 0.7 percent increase in January.

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January Pending Home Sales Rise to Highest Level in Nearly 3 Years

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) rose 4.5 percent to 105.9 in January, its highest level in almost three years, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. The monthly increase was the strongest since May, when the index rose 4.9 percent. Despite the strong report, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun remained cautious. ""Over the near term, rising contract activity means higher home sales, but total sales for the year are expected to rise less than in 2012, while home prices are projected to rise more strongly because of inventory shortages,"" Yun said.

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New Home Sales Post Strongest Increase in 20 Years

New home sales jumped 15.6 percent in January--the strongest gain in 20 years--to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 437,000, the highest since July 2008, the Census Bureau and HUD reported Tuesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected the report to show a much smaller sales pace: 381,000. January's rate of sales was the highest since July 2008. At the same time, the months' supply of new homes for sale dropped to its lowest level since March 2005.

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Housing Starts Impacted by Distressed Inventory

Housing starts declined 8.5 percent from December to January but remain 24 percent above last year's rates, according to recent data from the Census Bureau and HUD. Capital Economics points out that the recent decline is largely driven by the multifamily sector, while single-family starts actually rose 0.8 percent over the month. The general upward trend in housing starts is tied to recent declines in distressed inventory, according to Capital Economics. ""[H]omebuilders are starting to benefit from the dwindling supplies of deeply discounted distressed homes, which for a while were next to impossible for builders to compete with,"" the analytics firm stated.

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Starts Plunge in January; Permits at 4 1/2-Year High

Housing starts plunged 8.5 percent in January--the steepest drop in two years--to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000, the Census Bureau and HUD reported jointly Wednesday. Applications for residential permits rose 1.8 percent to a rate of 925,000, the highest level since June 2008. Economists had expected start activity to drop to 914,000 in January from the initial report for December of 954,000 starts. Permits, according to the consensus forecast, were expected to increase to 920,000 from the original report of 903,000 in December.

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Commentary: A Capital Idea

President Obama faces a budget obstacle in his plans to rebuild crumbling bridges and address other pressing infrastructure needs. Unlike many governments, the United States does not have a separate budget for capital spending, which means each tax dollar is as likely to go to the construction of, say, a courthouse, as it is to paying the salary of a judge or court clerk who works there. What would having a separate capital budget do for the country? For starters, it would rationalize our spending and make it more difficult for lawmakers to lard up spending bills with long-term projects.

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Homeownership Rate Slips in Q4

The nation's homeownership rate (seasonally adjusted) dipped to 65.4 percent in the fourth quarter from 65.5 percent in the third quarter, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. At 65.4 percent--the same level as the first quarter--the homeownership rate is at its lowest level since the first quarter of 1997 when the rate was also 65.4 percent. The homeownership rate peaked at 69.2 percent in Q2 2004. The Census Bureau also reported the homeowner vacancy rate remained at 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

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NAR: Pending Home Sales Index Records Sharp Drop as Inventory Falls

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) fell 4.3 percent to 101.7 in December, the sharpest month-month drop since April the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Monday. Economists had expected a smaller 0.3 percent decrease to 106.1 from November's originally reported 106.4. The November index was revised down to 106.3. NAR economist Lawrence Yun blamed a tight inventory for the weakening index. Yun also noted the lack of homes costing less than $100,000, especially in the West.

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Commentary: Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the Water

Two housing reports in the week just demonstrated, yet again, economists are not infallible. On Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported existing home sales for December: 4.94 million against a consensus forecast of 5.1 million. Then on Friday, the Census Bureau and HUD reported jointly 369,000 new homes were sold in December compared with a consensus forecast of 388,000. There are several important housing related reports due out next week, but they will take a backseat to the report on fourth quarter GDP and Friday's report on the employment situation.

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