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Orlando 08/30/08: Metro Orlando’s inventory of new subdivision housing fell again during the second quarter, according to a survey released by Metrostudy, earlier this week.

  • 3,646 finished-but-vacant single-family homes in the four-county metro area, down from 5,560 last year at the same time.
  • Total inventory including homes under construction and model units, was down 39% from July 2007 to 7,033 (7.1-month supply).  A market is generally considered to be in balance when the pace of sales and the number of units available combine for a six-month supply.
  • New-home starts in Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties totaled 1,701 during the second quarter, down 46.3% from the same period in 2007. The second-quarter total was 12% higher than the number of first-quarter starts, a sign that builders were anticipating an increase in demand, Metrostudy reported.
  • New-home closings in the second quarter totaled 2,215, down 45.4% from a year earlier and also lower than the first quarter.

“New-home sales are picking up in a few areas, where there also is some growth in base pricing, although that increase has been slow after more than a year of price reductions,” said Anthony Crocco, director of Texas-based Metrostudy’s Central and North Florida division.

A separate new-home market report, released this week by Charles Wayne Consulting Inc. provided additional evidence to suggest that a turnaround could be under way.

The president of the real estate research company said in his report, “It now appears that the worst of the housing construction slowdown may be behind us.”

The Charles Wayne survey, conducted slightly differently from the Metrostudy survey, found a sharp rebound in single-family home starts in the Clermont/Groveland/Mascotte area of south Lake County, with 153 homes under way in 38 developments, a 219% increase from the first quarter. Northeast Polk County, though officially outside the metro area, had the most new-home starts in the Orlando market during the period, with 285 units in 105 subdivisions, up 29% from the first quarter.

In all, 384 subdivisions reported building and marketing homes in 18 submarkets, and 12 of those 18 submarkets recorded an increase in home construction from the first quarter.

Lewis said it’s too early to celebrate, however. Although the numbers are “a move in the right direction,” they are building on very weak quarters from last year.

Source : Orlando Sentinel