Starts on construction of single-family homes rose 9% in February, the government said today. But before you get too excited that the bust is over, consider this: The increase was a rebound from an extremely low January, which was affected by bad weather. Starts are still down about 29% from a year ago. And worst of all, issuance of housing permits (which is relatively unaffected by weather) dropped about 2.5%. That’s an early warning sign of soft construction ahead.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.