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POOR WEATHER SLOWS HOUSING STARTS IN FEBRUARY, NAHB REPORTS

 WASHINGTON, March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- An unusually wet and cold winter coupled with the major blizzard that swept up and down the Atlantic coast last week will slow the growth of new home construction in the United States during the first quarter, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported today.
 "Although new housing starts were up slightly in February, the growth was hampered by bad weather and this does not even factor in the March blizzard that paralyzed much of the Eastern Seaboard," said NAHB President J. Roger Glunt.
 New housing starts rose 2.5 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,208,000, the Commerce Department reported today.
 One factor that could slow an expected spring thaw in new building activity is the skyrocketing price of lumber, which has nearly doubled in price over the past five months and added as much as $5,000 to the price of a 2,000-square-foot, median priced ($120,000) new home.
 "Due to the spike in lumber prices, some builders are holding off purchasing lumber in the hope that prices will decline from these record highs," said Glunt. "This could be a real wild card for the housing market down the road."
 Single-family housing starts remained steady in February at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,052,000, down slightly less than one percent, while multifamily starts jumped one-third to a rate of 56,000 units.
 Regionally, new home construction posted its largest gain in the West, up 16.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 251,000. Housing starts also rose 7.4 percent in the Northeast to a rate of 131,000 and 7 percent in the Midwest to a pace of 305,000. At 521,000 units, the South was the only region to post a decline, off 6.3 percent.
 -0- 3/16/93
 /CONTACT: Jay Shackford of the National Association of Home Builders, 202-822-0406/


CO: National Association of Home Builders ST: District of Columbia IN: CST SU: ECO

IH-DC -- DC022 -- 6667 03/16/93 15:21 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 16, 1993
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