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Total US housing starts increase 3.2% in November


December 17, 2019
By National Association of Home Builders

Total housing starts increased 3.2 per cent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.37 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department.

The November reading of 1.37 million starts 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 2.4 per cent to a 938,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate off downwardly revised estimates for recent months. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 4.9 per cent to a 427,000 pace.

“Market conditions for single-family starts are positive, given a lack of resale inventory, low interest rates and a solid job market,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Builder confidence points to additional gains as we look forward.”

“Since the rebound in housing took hold earlier this year, single-family starts have posted a steady improvement in the pace of construction,” said NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz. “Under the current estimates, the 2019 year-to-date total for single-family construction is just 0.4 per cent lower than the 2018 sum and is on pace to come in relatively flat for the year.”

On a regional and year-to-date basis, combined single-family and multifamily starts in November are 0.9 per cent higher in the Northeast and 7.4 per cent higher in the South. Starts are down 5.8 per cent in the Midwest and 8.7 per cent in the West.

Overall permits, which are a harbinger of future housing production, increased 1.4 per cent to a 1.48 million unit annualized rate in November. Single-family permits inched up 0.8 per cent to a 918,000 rate while multifamily permits increased 2.5 per cent to a 564,000 pace.

Looking at regional permit data on a year-to-date basis, permits are 11.6 per cent higher in the Northeast and 4.8 per cent higher in the South. Permits are down 3.3 per cent in the Midwest and 0.6 per cent in the West.