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Housing Starts In D.C. Area Increase

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After hitting all-time lows in the recession, home building is finally picking up. New numbers from the Department of Commerce show that builders nationwide are breaking ground on more homes than ever.

In the D.C. region, construction sites are becoming a more common. When a company starts construction on a new home, it's called a start.

"We were down at two starts in May and increased to four in June," says Stephen Paul, with Mid Atlantic Builders. "And probably this month we will start seven."

Paul says sales have picked up since March and have jumped about 15 percent from a year ago. Last month, he says, the company had the highest number of contracts since the recession, and now they are rushing to build those homes.

"I am optimistic that if our sales continue to grow, our starts will continue to grow, and therefore our closings will increase next year," he says.

This follows a national trend. In June, the annual rate of new housing starts was around 760,000, the highest in four years. In the District, this is a matter of simple supply and demand.

Robert Denk, a senior economist at the National Association of Home Builders, says more people are trying to buy homes, and fewer have been built. So now builders are rushing to fill in the gap.

"It has been improving at a faster rate than the national trend so we expect continued growth in the D.C. market over the next 6 months," he says.

But Paul says he isn't holding his breath. The recession was difficult for him and it's tempered his expectations. "We are a group that's burned a little bit, so we are a little bit skeptical."

Housing starts have increased 40 percent in the region from the recession's lows, but they're still at less than half the level before the market crashed.

Nilanjana Gupta contributed to this report.


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