New housing starts edged up to 610,000 units in September.

This was due entirely to a 4.4% gain in the single-family sector, according to U.S. Commerce Department figures. “Builders are cautiously responding to the small improvement they are seeing in interest among potential home buyers,” noted Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “Today’s numbers are in line with our latest builder surveys, which indicate that stability is slowly returning to the new-homes market following the declines we saw upon expiration of the home buyer tax credits and the slowing of economic growth this summer,” added NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Builders are receiving more inquiries from potential customers and are carefully responding to renewed consumer interest, although their limited access to credit for new housing production is definitely hampering this process.”

With all of the private residences already built…and over 300 billion square feet of commercial building space in existence…as it is in most every other part of the world, creating new structures are becoming secondary to retrofitting/upgrading existing structures.

The future health of the housing industry will not be measured by the number of permits issued for new buildings, but the number of square feet under permit for upgrading.

If builders would emerge from the 1800s mindset and focus on new realities, they could be employing workers converting empty factories into badly needed rental apartments while the housing glut diminished and property values increased to more acceptable levels.

The reason why the new houses permits are up is building materials are low priced and most houses on the market are foreclosures that need a total rehab. So it is cheaper now to build new.

80% of mortgage companies in Kansas City are now out of business, compared to 5 years ago.

Nick, please get a little real. Political correctness is out of style. We do not see any economic improvement at all here in KC, especially in real estate.

Building materials may be lower in cost, they are also lower in quality. Check out the price of lumber and concrete. They are not lower in cost. Smaller homes and apartments are about the only things now being built in the U.S.

Press board, fiberglass, fake stone, thinner sheet rock, all cheap, and imported. China is growing, we are not. Perhaps our current President wants us to be a third world country. Watch out.

Commodity prices have been on the upswing lately, including lumber.

On the flip side:

In September, over 100,000 U.S. homes were seized by lenders making a record number that is likely to decrease as major banks re-evaluate their foreclosure practices and halt repossessions. In a report by RealtyTrac Inc. today, last month lenders took over 102,134 properties.

Since the company began tracking in 2005 this report had the highest monthly tally surpassing the August record of 95,364. There was a rise of 3% to 347,420 in foreclosure filings, including auction and default notices, from prior months. A notice was received by one out of every 371 households. A third of all U.S. transactions in the month were made up of property sales in the foreclosure process, an indication that the housing market may be adversely affected by the prolonged repossession delay, said RealtyTrac.

Bingo Jim. The last thing we need are spec homes. Pre-sold custom homes are fine, but no more specs.

Gary, lumber quality is so bad here that you basically have to special order to get the quality we had on the racks at Home Depot 5 years ago.

Nick, correct. All I see anymore are #2 and #3 floor joists. Cedar shingles are almost non existent, and almost all are exported. You can get #2 cedar if you are lucky. Most roofing repair companies figure $10 per shingle in wood shingle roof “tune-ups”. Concrete is mostly being exported for the rebuilding of areas that the military blows up, which leaves us with less. Companies are cutting back production of most all products, due to lack of demand. This will only create inflation, and higher prices, in the near future of home products if demand increases.

If I were a contractor working in KC, I am rich, because they are doing home checks for free for buyers, and reaping the revenue in repairs, needed or not. It will take years for the RE industry to come back.

As for me, I am looking for other work here, but, due to my over 50 age, no one will hire me. Dan and I are considering standing on a corner with a cardboard sign.