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The slide in new home permits in Florida shows no signs yet of a turnaround, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. When people talk about a "bottom" in the housing economy, they usually mean some kind of turning point in the economic recovery, where buyers and lenders start to regain confidence and the building industry starts to bounce back. Florida, however, is perilouslyy close to another kind of bottom — the point where new home construction actually falls to zero. Industry analysts John Burns Real Estate Consulting report in a July newsletter ("Florida's Construction Industry is on Life Support") that 2009 housing starts in the state will likely total just 16,900 for the entire year — "which will be a decline of 91% from the peak in 2005." That's terrible if you're a builder. And as Burns notes, the plunge in Florida home prices is also bad news for property owners. The bright side, of course, is for renters who want to own a house. Says Burns, "Consumers may never see payments this affordable again, and the word is getting out among renters. A surging group of renters moving into homeownership is exactly what is needed to stabilize Florida's housing market, and eventually kick-start construction again."