December Housing Starts and Permits Figures Sag

Building permits and housing starts in
December were both below levels reported in November ‘according to data
released this morning by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
and the Census Bureau.  Both statistics
were, however, well above the levels one year earlier.

Building permits for privately owned
housing units were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 679,000, 0.1 percent
below the revised November rate of 680,000. 
Permitting activity was 7.8 percent higher than in December 2010 when
the pace of permits was 630,000.  The
November figure was revised downward from the 681,000 originally reported.

Permits were issued for single-family
houses at the rate of 444,000, up 1.8 percent from the 436,000 reported in
November.  Multi-family authorizations
(permits in buildings with five or more units) were at a rate of 209,000
compared to 223,000 in November.

The report estimates that there were 611,900
housing units issued during the whole of 2011, a 1.2 percent increase over the
604,600 issued in 2010.

On a regional basis, permitting
increased month-over-month in the Midwest by 5.8 percent and was up 13.4
percent on an annual basis.  Permits in
the West were unchanged from November and down 1.2 percent year-over-year.   Permitting fell 6.5 percent in the Northeast
and was 36.8 percent below that of one year ago while the South had a
fractional -0.6 percent change since November but permitting was still up 31.1
percent for the year.

Building Permits

Click Here to View the Housing Permits Chart

Privately-owned housing starts in
December were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 657,000, 4.1 percent below the
revised November estimate of 685,000 but a 24.9 percent increase from the
December 2010 rate of 526,000.  
Single-family starts were at a rate of 470,000, up 4.4 percent from the
previous month’s pace of 450,000 and 11.6 percent higher than in December 2010. 

There were an estimated 606,900 housing
units for which construction was started in 2011 compared to 586,900 in
2010.  This is an increase of 3.4
percent.

There were strong regional differences
in housing starts.  The Midwest saw a
jump of 54.8 percent in housing starts since November and a year-over-year
increase of 121.5 percent.  The other
regions did not fare nearly as well.  The
Northeast was down 41.2 percent for the month and 1.7 percent since December
2010.  The change in the South was -3.0
percent for the month and 19.0 percent for the year, and the West was down
-17.6 percent since November but up 1.5 percent annually.

Housing Starts

Click Here to View the Housing Starts Chart

Housing completions in December were at
a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 605,000, up 9.2 percent from the upwardly revised
(from 542,000) November figure of 554,000. 
Single family completions were at a rate of 448,000, a -0.9 percent monthly
change.

An estimated 583,900 housing units were
completed during 2011, 10.4 percent below the 2010 figure of 651,700.  At year’s end there were an estimated 78,800
permits that had been issued but for which work had not yet been started.  More than half of these permits (43,100) were
in the South.

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HUD EXPANDS JOB AND CONTRACTING OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOW-INCOME INDIVIDUALS AND THE BUSINESSES THAT HIRE THEM

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it is launching a Section 3 Business Registry pilot program in Washington, D.C. that will expand job opportunities for low-income people and public housing residents by maintaining a registry of businesses that currently hire them. Additionally, HUD will implement the pilot program in New Orleans, Detroit, Los Angeles and Miami, to give contracting agencies and low-income residents a single source of information to find eligible Section 3 businesses and job opportunities.

HUD AWARDS $6.8 MILLION TO HELP LOCAL COMMUNITIES UNDERSTAND THE SCALE OF HOMELESSNESS IN THEIR AREAS

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today awarded $6.8 million to help local communities across this country to assess the nature and scope of their homeless challenge as part of a broader Administration goal of preventing and ending homelessness. The technical assistance grants awarded today will ultimately help state and local planning organizations or ‘continuums of care’ to improve data collection and reporting that is a critical part of designing their responses to homelessness.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS LEAD WHITE HOUSE FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES

WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration today convened a meeting with more than 50 local government and business leaders to discuss the role of sustainability in economic development and job creation. The gathering coincided with the third anniversary of the creation of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a landmark collaboration between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Florida Loan Officer Sentenced in FHA Fraud Case

A Florida loan officer has been
sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison and ordered to pay $9.2 million in
restitution
to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for his
role in a mortgage fraud scheme that targeted the Federal Housing
Administration (FHA). Alejandro (“Alex”) Curbelo of Miami had pleaded guilty to
one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in April.  In addition to 54 months of incarceration he must
serve three years of supervised release.

According to documents filed in the U.S.
District Court in Miami, from approximately February 2006 through July 2008
Curbelo, then a loan officer for Great Country Mortgage Bankers in Miami,
assisted in the sale and financing of condominium units at Dadeland Place and
Pelican Cove on the Bay.   He assisted borrowers to obtain loans who were
unqualified due to insufficient income, high levels of debt, and outstanding
collections. 

Curbelo admitted that he conspired with
others to create and submit false applications and other documents to FHA on
behalf of the borrowers and to offering cash back to the borrowers as an
incentive for them to purchase the units. 
The closing costs were paid on behalf of the borrowers by interstate
wire which enabled the wire fraud charges. 

After the loans closed the unqualified
buyers
failed to meet their required payments and defaulted on their
loans.  HUD, which insured these loans,
was required to take title to the units after foreclosure and pay lenders the outstanding
balance of the loans.  The fraud cost HUD
more than $9.2 million.

The case was investigated by the HUD
Office of Inspector General as participants in the Miami Mortgage Fraud Strike
Force and the Finance Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

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