New home construction lost momentum at the end of 2013, failing to post a five-year high as many in the industry had hoped, a new report today shows.
Permits for single-family houses, condominiums and apartment units slipped about 3 percent in 2013, to 4,027 down from 4,140 in 2012, according to the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
Home building had been on a pace all year to reach a five-year high, but a weak December failed to push the total over last year.
“In talking with builders, I’m not surprised,” William Ethier, chief executive of the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut, an industry group, told me. “It’s been a struggle. Builders in some pockets are doing well, others not.”
He added: “We seem to be going in the right direction but painfully slow.”
New home construction fell to a decades low in 2011 but turned around the following year. Builders had hoped additional gains would be made again in 2013.
The levels are still well below the 9,000-10,000 units a year that Ethier said he considers a healthy building market.
Ethier told me there are buyers in the market, but many remain cautious in a job market that has not shown significant growth. Sales are propelled forward when buyers feel confident they can get other jobs if they lose theirs. Tough mortgage underwriting also is an issue, he said.
Today’s report is based on a monthly survey of 128 municipalities conducted by the U.S. Census. Once a year, all 169 towns and cities are surveyed for an annual tally. The monthly and annual counts have closely tracked each other in the past.