Residential housing completions tumble in August

Housing starts fell slightly during the month, but housing permits posted an improvement from July

Residential housing completions tumble in August
A significant decline in single-family housing completions in August drove an overall nosedive in privately-owned housing completions, according to new residential construction statistics released by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

During the month, privately-owned housing completions were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,075,000. The August rate is 10.2% below the 1,197,000 revised estimate for July, but is 3.4% above the 1,040,000 rate recorded in August last year.

Single-family housing completions were at a rate of 724,000, 13.3% below the 835,000 revised rate for the previous month. Completions of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 348,000.

Meanwhile, building permits for privately-owned housing units improved from July. The August seasonally adjusted annual rate was 1,300,000, 5.7% above the revised rate of 1,230,000 in the prior month, and 8.3% above the year-ago rate of 1,200,000. Authorizations for single-family housing were at a rate of 800,000, 1.5% below the 812,000 revised figure in July. The rate for permits for units in buildings with five units or more was at 464,000.

Starts for privately-owned housing were at an annual rate of 1,180,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis, 0.8% below the 1,190,000 revised estimate for July and 1.4% above the 1,164,000 rate in August 2016. The rate of single-family housing starts was at 851,000, 1.6% above the 838,000 revised figure for July. The rate was 323,000 for units in buildings with five units or more.

In response to the release, Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, said it appears that the housing shortage will continue well into 2018.

“Following August’s decline in new home construction, there will no doubt be a further temporary setback to housing starts in upcoming months due to the impacts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on Texas and Florida, respectively,” he said. “The shortage of labor in construction will further intensify as more workers concentrate on rebuilding rather than on new construction.”

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