Fewer Home Building Permits Signal Trouble

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The road continues to be long and tough for America’s housing market.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported today that the number of new housing projects and permits decreased last month in what could potentially be an ominous sign for the future of the housing market.

According to the report, there were 565,000 new building permits issued in July, which is a decline of 3.1% from the previous month, and the fewest number of permits issued since May of last year.

Meanwhile, the number of houses for which construction started rose by 1.7% to 546,000 last month, but fell about 10,000 short of expectations and did little to boost momentum in the market. According to the report, housing starts dropped by 22% in May and June of this year following the expiration of the government’s homebuyer tax credit and the number of new developments is now 7% fewer than August last year.

Given this data, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders found that homebuilder confidence is at a 17-month low.

However, one area of the housing market that seems to be doing well is the construction of apartments and condominiums. Construction on these buildings increased by nearly a third in July from the previous month.

Thinking about owning a home? MainStreet breaks down the factors you should consider when debating whether to rent or buy.

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