Austin Mortgage Market Update – For the week of March 22, 2010

February housing starts were down 5.9%, to an annual rate of 575,000 units, but this was higher than consensus expectations and almost all the drop came from multi-family units. Single-family homes were off only 0.6% in February and are still up 39.8% over their low a year ago. Meanwhile, new building permits for February fell 1.6%, to an annual rate of 612,000, but that was also better than estimates and permits are still up an estimated 11.3% from a year ago. The experts all thought we'd see a MAJOR drop in home building given the record snow storms on the East Coast. But we didn't. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) estimates we'll see 694,000 housing starts in 2010, a 20% hike from 2009 numbers.