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For the second consecutive year, Flagler County, Fla., registered the strongest growth of any county in the nation, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.

Located between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, Flagler's housing stock increased by 14.8 percent, or more than 5,000 units between July 1, 2004 and July 1, 2005. During the prior 12-month period, Flagler gained more than 4,000 units, for a two-year total of almost 10,000.

Three other Florida counties -- Sumter, Osceola and St. Lucie -- also were among the ten fastest growing. And as a result, the Sunshine State was the union's fastest growing, gaining more than 247,000 housing units over the July-to-July period.

California was a distant second with a gain of 182,000 units, followed by other warm-weather states Texas with 179,000, Georgia with 98,000 and Arizona with 87,000. over the period.

The Census Bureau counts a housing unit as a detached house, apartment, mobile home or trailer, a group of rooms, and a single room occupied as a separate living quarters, or if vacant, intended for occupancy as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live separately from any other individuals in the building and which have direct access from outside the building or through a common hall.

Sumter in Central Florida was the country's second fastest growing county, with an increase of 4,071 units, or 12.8 percent. Osceola near Orlando was fourth with a 9.5 percent increase, or 8,835 units, and St. Lucie on the Atlantic between West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce was ninth, adding 8,890 units, an 8.2 percent gain.

The remainder of the ten fastest growing counties were spread throughout the country.

Pinal, Ariz., between Phoenix and Tucson, was third, adding 10,111 units, for a 10.2 percent gain. Fifth was Franklin, Wash., adding just 1,752 units. But that amounted to a 9.4 percent increase in housing units for the county near the Oregon border near Richland.

Culpeper, Va., a distant Washington, D.C., suburb, was sixth. Similarly, it added a small number of units -- 1,379 -- but it still amounted to a 9.4 percent gain.

Washington, Utah, in the far southwestern corner of the state, was seventh, adding 3,869 units for an 8.6 percent gain. Incidentally, St. George in Washington County was the nation's fastest metro area between April 2000 and July 2005, the Census Bureau said in another report.

Kendall, Ill., in the far western Chicago 'burbs, was the eighth fastest growing county during the 12-month period, adding 2,217 units, for an 8.5 percent gain. And Rockwall, Tex., east of Dallas, was tenth with a 7.7 increase, or 1,575 units.

For the country as a whole, the number of housing units increased by 1.8 million, or 1.5 percent, to a total of 124.5 million during the July-to-July period.

Numerically, the biggest gainers were Mariopa County (Phoenix), Ariz., which added 52,203 units, an increase of 3.6 percent..

Clark County (Las Vegas), Nev., was second with 35,114 new units, a 5.1 percent gain, followed by Harris County (Houston), Tex., which added 33,698 units, an increase of 2.3 percent.

At the state level, four of the five recording the most rapid housing growth were in the West. The Top Five, in descending order, were Nevada, up 4.4 percent; Arizona, up 3.5 percent; Florida, up 3.1 percent; Idaho, up 2.9 percent, and Utah, up 2.9 percent.

Finally, the Census Bureau says that it's worth noting that Nevada's growth was almost three times faster than the country's as a whole.

Faster Growing U.S. Counties

CityJuly 2005July 2004Increase Pct. Change
Flagler, FL39,30934,2315,07814.8
Sumter, FL35,78631,7154,07112.8
Pinal, AZ108,777 98,66610,111 10.2
Franklin, WA102,18793,3528,8359.5
Osceola, FL20,433 18,6811,7529.4
Culpepper, VA16,154 14,7751,3799.3
Washington, UT48,77744,9083,8698.6
Kendall, IL28,149 25,9322,2178.5
St. Lucie, FL117,020 108,1308,8908.2
Rockwall, TX22,10320,5281,5757.7

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