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Some Prices Rise While Permits Fall

Biz BriefsThe housing market looks better in New Jersey and the Northeast than in the rest of the nation, according to data released last week. The U.S. Commerce Department said that the number of building permits issued nationally in April fell 8.9 percent from March to 1.43 million units. The fall compared with a year ago was even steeper: 28 percent.

But building permits issued for New Jersey fell even more sharply—by 38 percent between March 2006 and March 2007, the last month for which state-specific data is available. While this may be troublesome to construction workers, the trend could result in fewer new homes and help reduce the downward pressure on prices.

In fact, in this year’s first quarter, the Trenton-Ewing area posted the third-biggest price increase in the Northeast, with the median price of a house rising 7.1 percent to $283,800 compared with $264,986 a year ago. The state last quarter also rung up the biggest increase in home sales in the Northeast; sales climbed 7.6 percent to 183,600 homes compared with 170,631 the previous quarter.

In a sign of increasing confidence, housing starts based on existing permits in the Northeast were up 31.3 percent to 172,000 units in April over March numbers, according to the commerce department. By contrast, the nation as a whole saw an increase of only 2.5 percent to 1.53 million units.

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