Government report shows surprising sharp drop in housing starts and building permits, but single-home data show signs of stabilization. 

(Source: CNN)

Initial construction of U.S. homes and building permits both sank to record lows in April, according to a government report released Tuesday, but the same report also showed signs of stabilization in the single-family core of the housing market

“Markets trade on headlines but the details of this report are less bad,” said Ian Shepherdson, Chief U.S. Economist at High Frequency Economics, in a research note.

While the housing sector overall remains weak, the headline numbers of this report were dragged to record lows by the staggering multifamily sector.

“The devil is in the details here,” said Mike Larson, real estate and interest rate analyst at Weiss Research, in a research note.

“The weakness in April was concentrated in the multifamily sector of the market – condos, apartments, and so on,” said Larson. “That likely stems from the ongoing condo glut and the tighter financing conditions we’ve seen in the commercial real estate arena.”

Read Catherine Clifford’s full article “A not-so-awful bad housing report” in CNN (May 19, 2009).

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