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U.S. Real Estate Market Continues Recovery Despite Drop in May Housing Starts-BMO Capital Markets

Building permits up nearly 8 per cent to the highest levels in five years



CHICAGO, ILLINOIS and TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 19, 2012) - Despite a drop in housing starts in the United States, the real estate market is still recovering, according to BMO Capital Markets Economics.

The latest numbers released today show that U.S. housing starts in May fell 4.8 per cent to 708,000 units annualized. However, Jennifer Lee, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets, noted that there were upward revisions to the prior two months, especially April - now reported as 744,000 units, up 3.8 per cent from the initial report of 717,000 units.

"All of the declines in May were in the volatile multi-units category while the more stable single units actually rose for the third month in a row to a five-month high," said Ms. Lee. "Building permits, an indicator of what's to come for starts, jumped 7.9 per cent to 780,000 units, way beyond expectations to the highest level since September 2008. And there was a higher number of permits given out for single-family and multi-unit homes."

May 2012 Housing Starts and Housing Permits (thousands of units with % change from April 2012)

National Northeast Midwest South West
Housing Starts 708 (-4.8 %) 63 (-20.3 %) 111 (-13.3 %) 367 (-6.1 %) 167 (+14.4 %)
Housing Permits 780 (+7.9 %) 81 (-8.0 %) 121 (+6.1 %) 399 (+11.1 %) 179 (+10.5 %)

About BMO Financial Group

Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 650 branches and approximately 1,350 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $525 billion as at April 30, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

Media Contacts:
Peter Scott, Toronto
416-867-3996
PeterE.Scott@bmo.com

Jim Kappel, Chicago
312-461-2478
jim.kappel@harrisbank.com