Street Signs

CNBC's Olick: Housing Building Its Way Back Up?


Today's U.S. housing numbers

that we've been reporting have some very good news--and some not so good news (seems most economic reports out lately are a double edged sword). First--the housing starts for multi-family homes are up 42% in the month of December (the largest jump since April of 2005.) Great, right? Well hold on. CNBC's Diana Olick reported from a KB Home site in Florida--that the celebration might be premature.

As Olick pointed out--single family housing starts were down 4.1% in December. And inventories for single family homes are still high. There's also the weather. How does that fit in? Simple. December and the first part of this month have seen unusually warm temperatures (this week seems to have reversed that trend as temperatures have cooled off through most of the country). And warmer temperatures brought on more housing starts. So--the numbers might not exactly reflect a "typical" seasonal situation. T

No one seems to be taking the numbers in stride. "The housing starts is a weather story," said Keith Hembre, chief economist with FAF Advisors in Minneapolis. "I wouldn't take it as conclusive evidence that the housing downturn is over in a sustained manner." (Source: Reuters)

Realty Check

But--we can keep looking at the better housing news--with the biggest growth in housing starts occurring in the Northeast--with a 25.65 jump in December. That includes the areas of Boston, Washington DC and New York.

FYI:  As Reuters reports--for 2006 as a whole, housing starts totaled about 1.8 million, down 12.9 percent from 2005 -- the biggest annual decline in 15 years. While December's starts may have shown false strength, permits for future building activity also rose, a potential sign market conditions were stabilizing.