Housing Starts Fall in November
Housing starts posted a notable drop in November after a strong October pace. Total starts were down 18.7%, falling to a 1.09 million seasonally adjusted annual rate after a 1.34 million rate in October. However, the decline was concentrated in the volatile multifamily sector. The single-family sector continues to show anon improving trend, consistent with rising home builder confidence.
According to estimates from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, single-family starts declined 4.1% to an 828,000 annual rate from a robust October pace of 863,000. Year-to-date, single-family construction is 9.6% higher than this time of 2015. And as measured on a three-month moving average, single-family starts are at a post-cycle high, as seen on the graph below.
Single-family permits point to more growth in 2017. Single-family permits, as measured on a three-month moving average, are also at a cycle high (778,000 annual rate) and are 8.1% higher on a year-to-date basis.
Multifamily development was the primary reason the headline starts number declined in November. Total multifamily starts were down 45% for the month, dropping from a strong but unsustainable October pace of 477,000 to a 262,000 annual rate in November. On a year-to-date basis, multifamily starts are approximately 4% lower than this time in 2015, as the market levels off and finds a balance between supply and demand.
On a monthly basis in November, single-family starts were up 19.8% in the Midwest, but fell by 4.6% in the South, 7.6% in the Northeast and 15.3% in the West. However, the monthly numbers mask the improvement seen around the county during 2016 for single-family construction. On a year-to-date basis, single-family construction is up 12.4% in the Midwest, 10.9% in the Northeast, 9.5% in the South, and 7.6% in the West.
Focusing on housing’s economic impact, in November 57% of homes under construction were multifamily (599,000). This multifamily count is 9% higher than a year ago. There were 445,000 single-family units under construction, a gain of 7% from this time in 2015. This is the highest count of single-family units under construction since September of 2008.