U.S. single-family starts post unexpected gain in September: NAHB
October 18, 2023 By National Association of Home Builders
Despite elevated mortgage rates averaging above seven per cent, single-family starts posted a solid gain in September as more buyers are turning to new homes because of a dearth of inventory in the resale market.
Overall housing starts increased seven per cent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.36 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.
The September reading of 1.36 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts increased 3.2 per cent to a 963,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate. However, single-family starts are 12.8 per cent lower year-to-date due to higher interest rates. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 17.6 per cent to an annualized 395,000 pace.
“The uptick in single-family production was somewhat unexpected as our latest builder surveys indicate that starts are likely to weaken in the months ahead due to recent higher mortgage rates that were near 7.6 per cent in mid-October,” said Alicia Huey, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Ala. “Meanwhile, builders also continue to face persistent labor shortages, a lack of buildable lots and higher financing costs for acquisition and development loans.”
“Despite ongoing challenges in the market, the housing deficit of resale inventory continues to provide some market support for builders,” said NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz. “Because of a lack of existing homes in the marketplace, 31 per cent of homes available for sale in August were new construction. This compares with a historical average in the 12-14 per cent range. But in another sign that higher interest rates have slowed the market, the number of single-family homes under construction in September was 674,000, which is almost 15 per cent lower than a year ago.”
On a regional and year-to-date basis, combined single-family and multifamily starts are 23.3 per cent lower in the Northeast, 12.9 per cent lower in the Midwest, 7.8 per cent lower in the South and 16.9 per cent lower in the West.
Overall permits decreased 4.4 per cent to a 1.47 million unit annualized rate in September. Single-family permits increased 1.8 per cent to a 965,000 unit rate. Single-family permits are down 13.4 per cent year-to-date. Multifamily permits decreased 14.3 per cent to an annualized 508,000 pace.
Looking at regional permit data on a year-to-date basis, permits are 22.3 per cent lower in the Northeast, 16.6 per cent lower in the Midwest, 12.7 per cent lower in the South and 17.6 per cent lower in the West.
The number of apartments under construction is near 1 million units and will be falling in the months ahead.
Print this page