Aren't you glad you aren't a builder of new homes?

New home sales last year dropped to the lowest level in recorded history as a budding economic recovery grappled with unemployment and forecasts of increasing foreclosures. The Commerce Department said Wednesday sales of newly built homes fell 23 percent nationwide in 2009 from the previous year to 374,000 – the weakest showing since 1963 when sales data was first collected.

New home sales fared no better in the South, a region that includes Florida as well as 16 other states as far west as Texas.  About 202,000 new homes were sold in the South last year, a 24 percent drop from 2008 and the lowest amount since 1969.

“It was probably one of the most harrowing years for home builders,” said Brett Handler, president of Dreamstar Custom Homes, Inc., in Palm Beach Gardens. “New homes have definitely been quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet.”  The sale of new homes is one measure of economic health because their construction creates jobs. 

A reduction in new home sales doesn’t bode well for those workers or the economy as a whole, said Timothy Becker, director of the University of Florida’s Center for Real Estate Studies.

“The fact is people who are unemployed don’t spend money, they don’t buy houses, they’re not renting office space, they’re not eating out,” said Becker.  Florida’s unemployment rate climbed to 11.8 percent in December – the highest since 1975. Palm Beach County’s jobless rate in December was 11.5 percent.

Handler, of Dreamstar Custom Homes, is hopeful sales will increase in 2010 and said one bright spot has been a continuing decrease in inventory.

You may have seen Dreamstar Custom Homes advertisments in some of our glossy magazine since Brett takes out full page ads.  The information in this story comes from the Palm Beach Post and you can read the entire story on their website:

Visit me on the web at: