You probably remember the line about porridge from Goldilocks: It wasn't too hot, it wasn't too cold, it was ... just right. Last week's new housing starts in Hoboken were reported by the media as further evidence of the deep hole the home building industry is in: Starts were up by barely half a percent nationwide, and permits for future construction were down.
But is that "cold," or maybe something else? If you dig below the anemic sounding half a percent gain, you discover something very different: New starts by builders on single family homes were actually up by nearly four percent for the month nationwide.
Now a 4 percent gain, combined with lower permits, are hardly dramatic enough to say new home building is heating up. Then again, they're definitely not stone cold.