INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE ... It's nice to see home builders aren't just sitting there. In fact, thanks to their activities, Housing Starts went up 2.1% last month, to a five-month high 1.211 million unit annual rate. Starts are now 5.6% above a year ago, remaining a bright spot in an otherwise moribund U.S. economy. With weather and other considerations, housing starts can be volatile from month to month, so it's good to look at the 12-month moving average, and guess what--that's at its highest level since 2008. This should help alleviate the tight housing supply occurring in many parts of the country as we head to the 1.5 million annual start rate experts say we need to meet demand.
Building Permits dipped 0.1% in July, but single family ones are up 2.4% versus a year ago. Builders certainly are hopeful. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) confidence index moved up to 60 this month from 59 in July, as positive sentiment grows. The NAHB chairman explained, "New construction and new home sales are on the rise in most areas of the country." The latest National Appraisal Volume Index for the week of August 7 put appraisals up 5.5% above the prior week's 1.4% gain. As an indicator of market strength, appraisals have less fallout than mortgage applications, since they occur later in the process and there are fewer multiple orders.