Housing Starts at Five-Year High


The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported this morning that new housing starts in March rose to an annual seasonally adjusted rate of nealry 1.04 million. That was an increase of 7% from the upwardly revised February rate of 968,000 and a gain of 46.7% above the March 2012 rate of 706,000. The consensus estimate from a survey of economists expected the rate to rise to 930,000.

The seasonally adjusted rate of new building permits fell to 902,000, which is 3.9% below the upwardly revised February rate of 939,000 and 17.3% higher than the March 2012 rate of 769,000.

Single-family housing starts fell to an annualized rate of 619,000 in March, down 4.8% from the upwardly revised February rate of 650,000.

Permits for new single-family homes fell 0.5% in March, to an adjusted annual rate of 595,000, from an upwardly revised total of 598,000 in February.

Housing starts have reached their highest level in nearly five years, but the downside is that new permits have fallen in every category. Alongside the sequential drop of 0.5% in single-family permits, new permits for structures with two to four units fell 27.3% in March, and new permits for structures including five units or more fell 8.1%. Year-over-year figures indicate that new permits are higher than they were a year ago, with most of the gain in single-family homes.

New housing starts also are skewed heavily toward structures of five units or more, which are up 26.9% sequentially and 82.3% year-over-year.

The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) yesterday reported a third consecutive drop in builder confidence, blaming a broken supply chain and tight financing.

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