January 25, 2018 / 11:12 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Norway's new home sales fell 14 pct yr/yr in Dec

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OSLO, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The sale of new Norwegian homes fell by 14 percent year-on-year in December while housing starts fell by 4 percent, the Norwegian Home Builders’ Association (NHBA) said on Thursday.

The sale of new homes declined 22 percent in 2017 from 2016 while housing starts were down 2 percent. In November the corresponding year-to-date numbers were down 23 percent for sales and down 1 percent for construction starts.

Investments in Norway’s housing sector have boomed in recent years as demand for new homes rose and prices hit all-time highs last April, but the market has weakened in recent months, resulting in lower sales.

In total, housing starts fell to 30,719 units in 2017 while total sales declined to 27,755.

“The relatively high housing starts in 2017 were caused by a very good sale in 2016,” NHBA Chief Executive Per Jaeger said, adding that his association estimated a need for about 32,000 new homes annually based on current demographic trends.

The cost of buying a home is down about 6.7 percent on average since April, and has fallen by 11.5 percent in Oslo, according to data released earlier this month by Real Estate Norway.

Fears of a sharper decline in housing prices also resulted in a weakening of Norway’s crown currency in late 2017, although the crown has since partly recovered.

The 10 biggest home builders in Norway are OBOS, Mesterhus, Systemhus, Byggmann, Nordbohus, Blinkhus, Selvaag Bolig , Boligpartner and JM Norge. Other builders include AF Gruppen and Veidekke. (Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg, Ole Petter Skonnord, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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