WASHINGTON — One of the few bright spots in the economy last year, housing is expected to continue its strong performance in 2003, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

"2002 was a banner year for housing, with record new home sales and the highest number of housing starts in 16 years," said NAHB chief economist David Seiders. "Based on the first 11 months of the year, we expect to see an all-time high of 976,000 new home sales and 1.69 million housing starts for 2002."

The market will slow somewhat in 2003, but will still perform well, Seiders added. "Basic market fundamentals such as strong household formations, low interest rates, and solid house-price performance should continue this year. As a result, we're predicting that 2003 will be the second best year for new-home sales in history."

In terms of the actual forecast, NAHB expects a total of 942,000 new-home sales in 2003, a 3.4 percent decline from last year. Housing starts should decline about 3.5 percent to 1.63 million — 322,000 multifamily and 1.31 million single-family units.

"Even though the totals will be down a bit, in a historical context, they're excellent numbers," Seiders noted.

Publication date: 01/13/2003