Kaid Benfield Archive


Housing starts on a graph, or more evidence that we’re due for a new paradigm

Kaid Benfield

Posted May 26, 2009 at 3:26PM

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  (by: Agora Financial) 

Wow.  And note that the steep decline in new housing construction started in early 2006, well before the recession set in almost two years later.  Well, I guess we already knew that.

What I didn't know before I tracked down this graph (as reported by Agora Financial's web forecast manager Ian Mathias) was that "Housing starts in April fell 12.8%, to an annual rate of 458,000, the worst since at least 1959, when the government started keeping track. Applications for building permits fell to a record low as well."

The mention of 1959 is intriguing, because that era was the beginning of suburban sprawl, and just before the Interstate Highway System and a decade or more of high-profile urban chaos brought it to full flower.  That was the dawn of a new paradigm of development in this country.

Are we at another dawn of another paradigm?  The signs, which I have been reporting for a while (e.g., here) are manifest.  Mathieu Helie certainly thinks so.  I am increasingly persuaded to agree.