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10/04/2012

DFW home starts surged in third quarter

New home construction jumped 34.5 percent in the year's third quarter compared to a year ago, the fifth straight quarter of gains and the best since the second quarter of 2010, Residential Strategies said Thursday. There were 5,173 new home starts in the quarter, and for the first time since 2007, starts outpaced sales, the Dallas real estate research firm said. "The confluence of solid area job growth, ultra-low mortgage rates, tight existing home inventory and improving buyer confidence is propelling the DFW housing market forward with a solid recovery," said partner Ted Wilson. On an annual basis, the third-quarter starts equated to 16,431 starts for the year, which is just short of the rate seen during 2010's second quarter, when the government's homebuyer incentive program was in effect. That  tax-driven activity was not sustainable, Wilson said, and "meeting that previous interim high with organic growth represents a milestone in the recovery process."

Builders ended the quarter with 8,921 homes for sale or under construction, with 2,759 in the Tarrant area and 6,162 in the Dallas area. Both are up from a year earlier, although only narrowly in Tarrant. Builders are also whittling down the supply of vacant lots, the company said, ending the quarter with 57,787, or a 42-month supply. That's still much higher than the 24-month supply that's considered healthy, but about 15,000 of those lots are considered unusable by builders, Residential Strategies said.

-- Jim Fuquay

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