Japan December Housing Starts Rise 18% Before Tax Increase

Japan’s housing starts rose for a 16th month in December, the longest rising streak since the period ended February 1994, as builders broke ground before the government’s planned sales tax increase in April.

Construction companies built 18 percent more homes last month than a year earlier, according to a report released today by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Tokyo. Housing starts were expected to rise 13.6 percent, based on the median estimate of 22 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

The government’s plan to increase consumption tax to 8 percent from 5 percent in April has led to an increase in demand by homebuyers. Apartment supply in Tokyo will reach 2,000 units in January, the highest for the month since 2008, according to an estimate by the Real Estate Economic Institute Co.

Housing starts rose to an annualized 1.06 million units in December, the report showed, the highest since September 2008 and above a median estimate of 1 million units from a survey of 19 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Housing starts in 2013 rose 11.0 percent from 2012, the ministry said, the fastest pace of growth since 1996 when starts increased by 11.8 percent.

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