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Credit crunch and foreclosure rate limit builders

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) weighed in on the disappointing housing starts figures released Tuesday.

Nationwide housing starts declined 5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 571,000 units in August.

"At this point, most builders are only looking to replenish their depleted inventories of new homes for sale, but otherwise holding off on new projects," said National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev. "While we would like to get more crews back on the job, we need to see solid improvement in consumer demand, greater access to credit for both builders and buyers, and a reduction in the number of foreclosed properties on the market before we can ramp up new production."

"Today's numbers are completely consistent with NAHB's forecast for the quarter, and are in keeping with the anemic economic and job growth we are seeing across most of the country," said NAHB senior economist Robert Denk. "That said, we continue to anticipate modest gains in new-home production through the end of this year with greater momentum building into 2013, and some pockets of improvement are already evident in about a dozen metros nationwide."

The decline in starts was primarily on the more volatile multi-family side, with single-family housing production edging down just 1.4%. Meanwhile, permits for new construction posted modest gains in both sectors.

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