Building Permit Numbers Drop Sharply

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In a sign that the real estate market is slowing, the number of building permits issued to contractors took a precipitous drop. WNYC's Matthew Schuerman reports.

The Census bureau reports that the number of residential building permits declined by 46 percent across the five boroughs for the first quarter, compared to the same period as last year.

Real estate experts say that the worldwide credit crunch is making it harder for developers to get loans for new buildings. But the drop also signals that the national real estate slump is finally hitting not just New York, but even Manhattan, which has been impervious to price declines.

Building activity there fell by almost 70 percent, more than any other borough.

The fall in demand may help keep prices strong, but it is also an indicator that builders, and the banks who lend to them, don't think that there are enough buyers to go around.