THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The switch by Americans from buying to renting homes since the financial crisis has been underlined by a surge in the construction of flats.
The development of multi-family units - a category made up of flats and townhouses - jumped 25.3pc last month to an annual rate of 238,000, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. That helped drive overall construction on new homes up 9.3pc to an annual pace of 685,000, the strongest since the spring of 2010.
The better-than-expected figures were enough to cheer investors who have become accustomed to a flow of depressing news from the housing market since the bubble first burst in 2006. They also showed the degree to which the downturn is unwinding American homeownership, an objective of successive US governments since World War Two.
Ownership dropped to 66.9pc last year from a high of 70pc in 2005, and some are forecasting it will drop as low as 62pc as the hurdles to owning a home increase.
"We expect the shift from owning to renting to persist for the next few years," said Michelle Meyer, an economist at Bank of America. She points to the prospect of further repossessions next year and the tougher criteria banks are now imposing on potential borrowers. Read on and comment » | Richard Blackden, US business editor | Tuesday, December 20, 2011