Capitol Alert: Census Bureau charts California's housing meltdown

dwalters@sacbee.comJune 27, 2013 

The meltdown of California's once-booming housing industry is graphically illustrated in a new Census Bureau report.

In the two years after the 2010 census, California added a net 27,305 units of rental or owner-occupied housing, a gain of just two-tenths of 1 percent, one of the nation's lowest rates, the report says. When the housing industry was booming in the middle of the last decade, it was adding as many as 200,000 units each year.

California's housing growth during the two-year period was the 42nd lowest in the nation and just a third of the national rate. A few states actually saw a reduction of housing, while it boomed in states seeing big economic and population gains from the surge of oil and gas production.

Oil-rich North Dakota had a 3.7 percent gain in housing during the period, the nation's highest rate, while Texas was No. 2 at 1.8 percent, nine times California's rate. Texas added 176,793 housing units, more than six times what California added.

California's housing construction dearth may be easing, however. Sales of existing homes have spiked upwards in recent months as the state's economy recovered from recession and interest rates fell to historic lows and that has also spurred an increase in new housing starts.

However, economists are not forecasting a housing boom anything like what's occurred in the past because the state's population growth, the major driver of housing development, has slowed to less than 1 percent a year. The state budget assumes that new housing starts will rise above 100,000 next year, about half the number of the peak housing boom in 2005 and 2006.

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