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Building permit numbers down in Aug.

LAWRENCEVILLE - It's been a slow year for Gwinnett County builders and things only got slower in August, according to building permit numbers from the Gwinnett County Planning and Zoning Office.

The county issued 314 permits for single-family houses in August, the fewest permits issued in a month in 2007. December was the only month with fewer permits issued (287) since the start of 2006.

So far in 2007, the county has averaged 360 single-family home permits a month after averaging 551 permits a month in 2006 and 683 permits a month in 2005.

The permit slowdown has been one of the sharpest in the metro Atlanta area, according to figures from the Atlanta Regional Commission. Based on numbers through July, Gwinnett has seen over 45 percent fewer permits taken out in 2007 as compared to the same period in 2006. Only Fulton has seen a greater decrease with more than 50 percent fewer permits taken out in 2007.

Fewer buyers on the market have created a growing inventory of homes, experts say. As a result, builders have pulled back on the number of homes they're constructing.

Eugene James, the Atlanta director of the housing market research firm Metrostudy, said at the Atlanta Regional Housing Forum last week that there have been 25 percent fewer closings in Gwinnett between the second quarter of 2006 and the second quarter of 2007.

"Sales have just dried up very rapidly throughout Atlanta," James said.

SideBar: At a glance

Here's a look at the number of single-family home permits taken out in Gwinnett County so far this year:

January

360

February

361

March

411

April

366

May

328

June

404

July

336

August

314