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Single-family and multi-family starts post solid gains in April


May 16, 2019
By National Association of Home Builders

Total housing starts rose 5.7 per cent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.24 million units from an upwardly revised reading in March, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department.

The April reading of 1.24 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts increased 6.2 per cent to 854,000 units. The multi-family sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 4.7 per cent to a 381,000 pace.

“Builders remain cautious due to affordability concerns,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “But as our builder confidence survey shows, their expectations indicate consumers will respond to lower interest rates moving forward and the housing market will continue on a slow, steady climb.”

“Though an overall encouraging report for the month of April, the soft permit numbers for single-family housing indicate concerns about housing affordability and construction costs,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert
Dietz. “Builders continue to focus on managing home construction costs as they try to meet growing housing demand. NAHB analysis of first quarter permit data show growth in more affordable exurban locations.”

Regionally, combined single-family and multi-family starts in April rose 84.6 per cent in the Northeast and 42 per cent in the Midwest. Starts declined 5.7 per cent in the South and 5.5 per cent in the West.

Overall permits, which are a harbinger of future housing production, edged up 0.6 per cent to a 1.3 million unit annualized rate in April. Single-family permits fell 4.2 per cent to 782,00, the lowest level since October 2016. Multi-family permits increased 8.9 permcent to 514,000.

Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 2.2 per cent in the Midwest and 5.3 per cent in the West. Permits fell 4 per cent in the Northeast and 1.2 per cent in the South.