Two reports showed that construction activity across the country is improving, but in fits and starts. The U.S. Commerce Department said that housing permits were up 7.9 percent from April while housing starts were off 4.8 percent. (A start is measured when construction begins, a permit is pulled well ahead of construction.) Gains were made largely because of an increase in new single-family homes while apartment construction fell during the month. The decline in new apartments isn't a surprise - multi-family construction tends to happen more sporadically because of the size of the projects.
Despite the mixed messages in the May report, the construction industry is in the midst of a much better spring that last year. So far this year permits are up 31 percent while starts are up 27 percent compared with last year.
And just yesterday the National Association of Home Builders said that its builder confidence index rose one point in June to the highest level in five years. Twin Cities home builders are generally optimistic. The number of units planned for the Twin Cities during May was up double-digits, according to the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. Builders say that a shortage of existing homes is forcing prospective buyers who can't find what they want to build. And rumors are flying about robust demand for in-fill development prospects within the 7-county metro area. Just yesterday Toll Bros. said that it was starting construction of a 52-unit development in Eden Prairie - a project Just Listed told you about back in March when the project was announced.