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Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: Notable shift in area housing market

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  • A funny thing happened on the way to the area’s housing recovery.
    Figures for new housing starts were released Tuesday, and they highlight how multi-family housing is accounting for a larger and larger share of the home construction market.
    In 2007, before the recession really took root but well after home construction had begun to tank, multi-family homes accounted for just 18.5 percent of the 7,450 construction permits issued across eight metro counties, according to the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City.
    But the single-family home’s dominance of the market has slipped. Single-family home permits bottomed out at 1,973 in 2009 and have been steadily gaining since. They’ll likely surpass 4,000 for 2013, for the first time in six years.
    Multi-family home permits hit their low – just 253 – in 2010, and that year single-family homes accounted for 89 percent of the permit total. But duplexes, apartments and other multi-family homes have since grown far more quickly than single-family homes, whose share of the market so far in 2013 is down to 57.9 percent.
    Across the metro area – Jackson, Cass, Clay, Platte counties in Missouri, plus Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Johnson and Miami in Kansas – single-family home permits are up 27 percent through the first 11 months of the year, the Home Builders Association reports. Eastern Jackson County’s numbers track closely with that, up 27.9 percent.
    The area’s leader is Lee’s Summit – No. 4 in the metro – at 279 permits, a jump of 18 percent from 2012. The stronger story is in Blue Springs, with 132 permits, a jump of 61 percent that puts it at No. 9 in the metro. Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are Kansas City, Mo. (621 permits, most of them north of the river), Olathe (480) and Overland Park (402). Independence, at 63, is tied with Spring Hill, Kan., at No. 14.
    Data snapshot
    Other data to consider while pondering why bigger lottery jackpots mean increasingly worse odds but increasing numbers of players, meaning bigger jackpots and then ... well you get the idea:
    • Missouri’s unemployment rate for November fell to 6.1 percent, the lowest in more than five year, the state Department of Economic Development reported Tuesday.
    The partial shutdown of the federal government delayed the release of some figures this fall, but local figures for October have now been posted. Blue Springs was down to 5 percent, its lowest since December 2008. Independence has seen similar steady gains, reaching 6 percent in October, the lowest since April 2008.
    Metrowide, the rate in October was 5.7 percent, down from a little more than 7 percent early this year. More than 1 million area residents have had a job since April of this year.
    • CoreLogic reports that 8.7 percent of homes with mortgages in the metro area were under water in the third quarter of this year, that is, more was owed on the mortgage than the house was worth. That’s more than 32,000 homes, but it’s an improvement from the second quarter’s 10.2 percent.
    Page 2 of 2 - Kansas City is doing better than the country as a whole. The third-quarter rate for the U.S. was 13 percent, CoreLogic says. The economy keeps getting a little better day by day, but having one mortgage holder out of seven in that particular trap surely remains a drag on growth and mobility.
    Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business reporter and editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net or 816-350-6313. Follow on Twitter @FoxEJC or @Jeff_Fox.
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