New data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department indicated a fall in March housing starts to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.22 million units. That’s down from an annual rate of 1.288 million units in February.
Despite the decline, housing starts are still 8.1% higher than in the first quarter of 2016
“Today’s numbers are aligned with our builder confidence metric, which contracted slightly this month but is on solid footing overall,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald.
Single-family production dropped by 6.2% to an annual rate of 821,000 units, and multifamily starts declined by 7.9% to annual rate of 394,000. But NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said the market for single-family homes was strengthening.
“The three-month moving average for single-family starts has reached a post-recession high, which shows that this sector is continuing to firm,” Dietz said. “We can expect further gains in single-family production throughout the year, while multifamily starts should level off.”
Regionally, single- and multifamily housing production increased by 12.9% in the Northeast, but declined by 2.9% in the South, by 16% in the West, and by 16.2% in the Midwest.
Nationwide, permit issuance rose by 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.26 million units; multifamily permits increased by 13.8% to 437,000 units; while single-family permits dropped by 1.1% to 823,000 units.
Regional permits increased by 16.7% in the West, 15.5% in the Northeast and 6% in the South, while permits fell by 22% in the Midwest.
Single-family housing starts hit 10-year high
Housing starts fell by 6.8% in March after hitting their highest level since 2007 the month before, according to the National Association of Home Builders.