Single-family home construction fell both nationally and in Lawrence during August, a pair of reports released Wednesday showed.
In Lawrence, single-family housing starts hit a new low in August, city building permit records showed.
Builders started 18 single-family homes during the month, down from 31 in July; in August 2002, builders started 20 homes. The 18 permits made August the slowest month this year for housing starts in the city. The previous low was in January, when 20 permits were issued.
For the year, single-family housing totals in Lawrence are up about 6 percent. Builders here have started 205 homes in 2003, compared to 193 through August of 2002.
Nationally, the Commerce Department reported housing construction declined by 3.8 percent in August compared to July levels.
Higher mortgage rates were believed to be the reason for the decline at both national and local levels.
Economists and homebuilders, though, still are expecting new home sales to set record highs this year.
"There is a strong current of optimism throughout our entire industry that today's very healthy activity is sustainable through at least the end of this year," said Kent Conine, president of the National Association of Home Builders.
The new construction slowdown for the month wasn't limited to single-family housing in Lawrence. City officials reported no permits were issued for new business construction or apartments. Only one duplex permit was issued.
The result was city officials issued permits for $5.7 million worth of projects in August, the lowest monthly total of the year. The previous low was $6 million in February. The August total also was lower than the $9.6 million worth of projects started in July and the $14.1 million started in August 2002.
For the year, builders have started $92.4 million worth of projects, which is about 4 percent less than the $96.1 million worth of projects started through August 2002.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.