Value of new housing pacts dips

Declines shown in state for July, 7 months of 2002

Mixed news on building permits

September 08, 2002|By Andrew D. Faith | Andrew D. Faith,SUN STAFF

Contracts for the construction of new residential housing in Maryland in July dropped in value to $320.9 million from $375.7 million last year, a 15 percent decrease, according to the latest McGraw-Hill construction report.

For the seven months through July, residential construction in the state was down 5 percent, to $2.3 billion this year from $2.4 billion last year.

Residential building permits for the Baltimore area, including the city and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne's counties, totaled 6,464 in the first seven months of this year, up 1.3 percent from last year's 6,305. Of this year's permits, 5,417 were for single-family homes and 1,047 were for multifamily residences.

Applications for building permits in the Baltimore region dropped 21.9 percent in July compared with July of last year. This year's total for the month was 879 and last year's was 1,126, according to U.S. Commerce Department statistics.

The situation in the overall Baltimore-Washington region is brighter, said Robert J. Sheehan, president of Regis J. Sheehan & Associates, a management and market research firm in McLean, Va.

"The lowest mortgage interest rates since the 1960s spurred single-family construction during July in the Washington-Baltimore-Hagerstown metropolitan area, and multifamily permits rebounded after a marked drop in June," Sheehan said. "The net result was a 27 percent increase in total permits in July from the same month a year ago."

Permits were issued in the overall metro area for 4,937 units in July, up from 3,894 units a year ago. Multifamily permits jumped to 1,372 units in July from 767 units a year earlier. Single-family permits increased to 3,565 units from 3,107 units a year ago.

A total of 3,952 units were issued permits during July in the Washington area, up 48 percent from 2,678 units a year ago. Multifamily permits rose 175 percent, and single-family activity increased 15 percent.

Permit activity rose markedly in all of the submarkets of the region except the Maryland suburbs.

Permits in the District of Columbia increased to 661 units from only six a year ago. The Virginia suburbs saw a 49 percent increase in activity, and in the West Virginia suburbs, the increase was 38 percent.

Permits fell 10 percent in the Maryland suburbs during July, led by the Baltimore area.

Multifamily permit activity in the Baltimore area dropped 80 percent while single-family permits increased less than 1 percent. Permits increased 18 percent in the Hagerstown area, where total permit activity was 106 units vs. 90 units a year earlier.

Total permits in the Washington-Baltimore-Hagerstown region were up 3 percent during the first seven months of this year to 29,766 units from 28,929 a year ago.

Single-family permits were down 1 percent while multifamily activity increased 20 percent in the region. Permits rose 2 percent in the Washington and Baltimore region.

A 17 percent increase occurred in the Hagerstown area.

J. Regis Sheehan & Associates and McGraw-Hill Construction Information Group contributed to this article.

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