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Signs of recovery in real estate will lead to favorable trends in the Berkshires too.

From REAL Trends, Inc.


Housing starts jump in May
 Good news for the real estate market as housing starts improved above expectations in May. The Housing Starts report showed a 17.2% monthly advance to an annual pace of 517,000 in May. This is the third month of improvement and puts the index at its highest level since November. Single-family housing starts improved 7.5% in May to 401,000, while the pace of construction for buildings with five or more units was 124,000, more than double the 70,000 pace in April.   Building permits also increased in May, moving up 4.0% overall to a pace of 498,000. On a year-to-year basis, the number of new permits is down 47%. Permits for single-family units saw a 7.9% gain 408,000, while permits for buildings with five or more units fell 10,000 to 92,000 in May. 


Signs of recovery
 A few metropolitan areas are beginning to showing signs of economic recovery, according to a study by The Brookings Institute, although none has completely recovered. McAllen, Texas is the only metropolitan area that saw growth in both employment and output during the first quarter of 2009. Employment also rose in New Haven, Conn. and Baton Rouge, while output also increased in Seattle, Austin, Virginia Beach, Washington, Richmond, San Jose, and Riverside. Still, none of these metro areas has yet returned to its pre-recession levels of employment or output.   Some 38 of the top 100 metro areas avoided declines in home prices over the past year, even as prices nationwide dipped 6 percent. Most of these metro areas also experienced below-average employment declines, and lie in the less-affected parts of the "Manufacturing Belt" (Pennsylvania and upstate New York) and Sun Belt (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana). They also exhibit below-average shares of properties in REO (real estate-owned) status due to bank foreclosure.   Source: The Brookings Institute


Southland median sale price inches up for first time since July 2007
 Southern California home sales rose for the 11th consecutive month in May as sales of $500,000-plus homes started to come back. The median price paid increased slightly from the prior month for the first time since July 2007, the result of a shift in market activity where sales of deeply discounted foreclosures waned and mid- to high-end purchases rose, according to DataQuick, a real estate information service. Foreclosure resales homes sold in May that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months accounted for 50.2 percent of all Southland resales. That was down from 53.5 percent in April and from a peak of 56.7 percent in February. May's figure was the lowest since foreclosure resales were 50.9 percent of all resales last October.

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