By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON | Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:07pm EDT
(Reuters) – Groundbreaking on new U.S. homes rose in June to its fastest pace in over three years, lending a helping hand to an economy that has shown worrisome signs of cooling.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that housing starts rose 6.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000 units. That was the highest rate since October 2008.
“Housing is clearly in recovery mode, although the sector is much less important than it used to be,” said Jim O’Sullivan, an economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York.
The housing market, which began to collapse six years ago, has been a relative bright spot in the economy this year, although it remains hobbled by a glut of unsold homes.
But since it makes up a smaller share of the economy than before the 2007-2009 recession, it can provide only a limited lift to the broader recovery.
In a cautionary sign for the housing sector, new permits for building homes dropped 3.7 percent to a 755,000 unit pace.
The Commerce Department said groundbreaking for single-family homes — the largest portion of the market — rose 4.7 percent, while starts for the more volatile multi-family homes segment rose 12.8 percent.
On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said applications for U.S. home mortgages jumped last week on a surge in demand for refinancing as the interest rate on 30-year mortgages fell to a record low.
Other data in recent weeks has shown signed contracts for home purchases rose sharply in May and rising home prices.
“Housing continues to be the one sector of the U.S. economy that is outperforming expectations,” said Michael Gapen an economist at Barclays in New York.
Housing starts in June were above the median forecast in a Reuters poll of a 745,000-unit rate, and readings for April and May were revised higher.
Still, the broader U.S. economy has looked much more wobbly of late, and if the recovery fails and the country tips back into recession, housing also would suffer.
U.S. stocks rose, lifted by a rebound in tech shares following Intel’s results. Shares in homebuilders were mixed. U.S. 30-year bond yields fell as safe-haven demand for bonds persisted despite the housing data.
In testimony to a Senate panel on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. economic recovery was being held back by anxiety over Europe’s debt crisis and the path of U.S. fiscal policy. He repeated the message before a committee in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Bernanke has warned that planned belt tightening by the U.S. government in 2013 would likely send the country back into recession, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner echoed those concerns on Wednesday, calling for reforms to boost growth and provide fiscal sustainability.
“What the economy needs right now is a very substantial, well designed program of support for economic growth,” Geithner said at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference in New York.
In his two days of testimony, Bernanke offered few concrete clues about whether the U.S. central bank was moving closer to a fresh round of monetary stimulus. He told lawmakers on Tuesday that policymakers meeting later this month would be looking for signs of any stall in the recovery of the labor market.
The pace of hiring in the United States slowed sharply in the second quarter, as did growth in factory output. Retail sales have also flagged in recent months.
The Los Arcos Methodist Church in Scottsdale was not alwasy an architectural oddity in south Scottsdale. In 1966 construction was finished on this midcentury modern church intended to be a “Church in the marketplace” referring to the nearby Los Arcos mall. (now skysong.)
It’s amazing to think about all of the modern architecture that exploded here in the valley in the 60’s, especially in places of worship. The website Modern Phoenix highlights many of these and more midcentury treasures the valley has to offer.
Sadly the days of Los Arcos are finished, and not in some esotric sense, it’s been demolished. Here are some photos of the demolition. (The congregation however is still alive and well.)
(Here it is with the windows missing.)
(Here showing the aftermath.)
(Almost mockingly, the sign has been left intact.)
Progress can be a good thing, but here in the west we are all too quick to scrap something and start over. Los Arcos may not have been had great attendance but it’s design speaks of a time not long ago, when Scottsdale was just beginning to find it’s voice. It was churches and buildings like Los Arcos that inspired people to think of Scottsdale as the modern city we know today. It’s worth taking a second to remember that without reminders of our past, we may loose sight of our future.
Because of all the space we have here in the valley, tiny homes are not going to be taking off here anytime soon. However with beautiful modern designs like this “sliver” house, maybe we should starting thinking about where we’d put our desert tiny home.
The efficiency of space and simplicity of design are actually well suited to the desert where plants animals and people have had to learn to do more with less. At Cambridge Properties we believe an individuals self expression should emanate from every facet of their life. This home reminds us that sometimes you can do much more with less, and it’s not necessarily the home but the environment that’s important.
Photos courtesy of Ather Apparel.
This interview is a must read for any modern urban phoenix resident. It might be from way back in 2007 but much of what Bruder talks about is still aplicable to the valley. In addition to some great insight into the valley this interview is a great way to get a look into the mind of one of Arizona’s most prominent Architects.
Read the Full Article here.
Did you know there is a planning council who’s soul purpose is to maintain the rustic look and feel of Old Town Scottsdale? Made up of business owners and community members the Old Town Merchants association is committed to preserving Old Town Scottsdale vintage charm.
With the new crop of High Rise residential towers and lofts in Old Town Scottsdale, it’s going to be interesting to see how they merge new and old in the years to come.
Great News for Paradise Valley Home Sellers
Big homes are back according to the Wall Street Journal online. This should be great news for companies like Paradise Valley Real Estate Company Cambridge Properties, located in Phoenix Arizona. Cambridge Properties has been a long time leader in urban living and more recently in the Luxury single family home market. News like this should be welcomed by Paradise Valley residents as they start to see their property values once again increase.