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Greater Boston's home building slump

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis June 17, 2013 07:20 AM

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Housing starts are on the upswing across the country, with a fresh batch of good news due out Tuesday from the feds.

But here in Massachusetts, construction of new, single-family homes has fallen to anemic levels not seen in decades, with no signs of a major uptick in the horizon.

And given the onward march of home prices across the Boston area, that's hardly good news.That is unless you think supply and demand just don't matter when it comes to housing prices.

The local economy may be kicking into high gear, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, but home builders have pulled, on average, only 5,300 permits per year, according to the Home Builders Association of Massachusetts.

In fact, 2011, when builders pulled just 4,889 permits for new homes, was the worst on
record in Massachusetts. Despite being the most populous New England state, was almost dead last when it comes to house permits as measured per capita, says HBAM.

So how do these numbers all stack up historically?

Well, pretty poorly. Between 1984 and 1988, home builders pulled on average 24,000 permits for new homes each year. And even that wasn't a particularly impressive feat, with the numbers just about average compared to the national rate, the builders' group contends, having hired an economist to look at local building numbers.

Yes, there is a fair amount of residential construction going on right now in Boston and in some suburbs, but the vast majority of these new projects are apartment buildings.

So what's your take on this? Would you like to see more new homes to pick from? If so, how do we get there?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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