Privately-owned housing starts dropped 2.8% in October to print at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,009,000 units, which is still 7.8% above the October 2013 rate of 936,000.
Single-family housing starts, which have been lagging through the summer and fall, finally perked up, growing 4.2% from last month’s tepid performance.
This comes one day after the National Association of Home Builder’s monthly survey said builder confidence is up for November.
Notably the only region with gains in starts was the South, which saw an increase of 10.1%. The West saw a drop of 10.9%, the Northeast dropped 16.4% and the Midwest plunged 18.5%.
“While permits rose in October, starts declined on weakness in the multi-family sector. Still, following yesterday’s rise in the NAHB Index, there appears to be a significant amount of confidence amid home builders breaking ground on new projects as low financing costs and improvement in the labor market are expected to bring new demand for housing,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist for Sterne Agee. “While there has been improvement in sales since a weak start to the year, demand has hardly been robust. Minimal income, lackluster savings, and more stringent borrowing restrictions are in some cases outweighing historically low borrowing costs.
“After a surge in buying activity in mid-2013 sparked by the Fed’s taper talk, demand slipped noticeably and has since been unable to recapture the highs of 2013. In the end, without jobs and income growth, consumers remain restrained, translating into positive, but modest demand,” she said.
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,080,000, which was 4.8% above the revised September rate of 1,031,000 and is 1.2% above the October 2013 estimate of 1,067,000.
Paul Diggle, property economist for Capital Economics, was optimistic in his outlook.
“The decline in housing starts in October was entirely driven by a fall in the volatile multi-family component,” Diggle said. “With single-family starts, building permits and homebuilder confidence all rising, the outlook is becoming increasingly positive.”
The permits level is also the highest since June 2008.
Single-family authorizations in October were at a rate of 640,000, which makes for a 1.4% gain on the revised September figure of 631,000.