New-Home Construction Rebounds From Shock of Hurricanes

New-home construction nationwide rebounded from the shock and devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita to maintain a vigorous pace in September, the U.S. Commerce Department reported this week.

Total housing starts increased 3.4 percent for the month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.108 million units following upward revisions to the July and August rates. The September construction pace was 10.3 percent above a year ago and remained above 2 million units for the sixth month in a row.

Single-family home construction rose 2.6 percent to a near-record pace of 1.747 million units for the month. This was 12.3 percent above the pace of a year ago.

"Builders are operating at a very healthy pace and see little letup in the months ahead, despite the initial shock and economic uncertainties immediately following hurricanes Katrina and Rita," said Dave Wilson, president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a custom home builder from Ketchum, Idaho.

"All the fundamentals remain in place and the overall housing market continues to exhibit ongoing strength," said NAHB chief economist David Seiders. "Favorable mortgage rates as well as strong household income and job growth continue to bolster housing demand."

Two of four regions reported increases in housing activity for the month. Construction of new homes and apartments rose 1.9 percent in the Midwest and 6.9 percent in South, despite the effects of the Gulf hurricanes, while in the Northeast and West construction continued at the same pace as the month before.

Multifamily housing starts increased by 7.8 percent for the month to a seasonally adjusted pace of 361,000 units. This was 1.1 percent above the pace of a year ago.

Issuance of total building permits increased 2.4 percent to a seasonably adjusted rate of 2.189 million units for the month. Single-family permit issuance was up 4.4 percent to a record pace of 1.749 million units for the month. The pace of multifamily permit issuance decreased 4.8 percent.

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