Single-Family Starts Continue Modest Improvement in July

Due to a decline in multifamily production, total housing starts fell 4 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.19 million units from a downwardly revised reading in June, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department.

The July reading of 1.19 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts increased 1.3 percent to 876,000 units. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, fell 16.2 percent to a 315,000 pace.

“Despite housing affordability headwinds, builders remain confident about the market and this is reflected in recent modest gains in single-family starts,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“Permits bottomed out in April and single-family starts hit their low point in May, and now we are starting to see the gradual improvement in the market that we’ve been forecasting,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

On a regional and year-to-date basis, combined single-family and multifamily starts in July rose 3.7 percent in the South. Starts declined 5.7 percent in Northeast, 7.9 percent in the Midwest and 12.3 percent in the West.

Overall permits, which are a harbinger of future housing production, increased 8.4 percent to a 1.34 million unit annualized rate in July. Single-family permits edged 1.8 percent higher to a 838,000 rate while multifamily permits jumped 21.8 percent to a 498,000 pace.

Looking at regional permit data on a year-to-date basis, permits rose 2.4 percent in the Northeast. Permits fell 7.1 percent in the Midwest, 0.1 percent in the South and 6.8 percent in the West.

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