The Official Online Weekly Newspaper of NAHB
Nationwide housing starts rose for a third consecutive month in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 626,000 units from an upwardly revised number for February, according to figures released on April 16 by the U.S. Commerce Department.
The rate of permit issuance for new housing construction rose by a solid 7.5% last month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 units.
"After an uncertain couple of months, home builders are gradually getting back to what they do best as the spring home buying season commences and consumers return to the market," said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones. "While we still have a long way to go, the March numbers are an indication that builders are looking down the road with a bit more optimism."
"Today's report is very encouraging, because it signifies that home builders are confident enough to begin work on homes that will very likely be completed after the expiration of the home buyer tax credits," noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.
"The solid gain in permit issuance last month is particularly welcome news, since those numbers are generally a reliable indicator of future building activity,” said Crowe. “That said, considerable headwinds continue to impede housing's recovery, including the critical shortage of credit for housing production that is stifling new development in reviving markets."
While single-family starts slipped 0.9% in March, this small decline — from an upwardly revised number the previous month — was due entirely to a drop-off in the Midwest from an abnormally high February level; all other regions reported single-family gains in March.
Multifamily starts were up 18.8% for the month to a 95,000-unit rate.
Single-family permits in March rose 5.6% to 543,000 units and multifamily permits climbed 15.4% to a 142,000-unit rate.
Regionally, combined single- and multifamily starts activity rose 18.2% in the South, which is the largest regional housing market, but fell 28.4% in the Midwest, 8.3% in the Northeast and 2.1% in the West.
Combined permit activity in March rose 17.6% in the Midwest and 18.4% in the South, but dropped 19.5% in the Northeast and 6.7% in the West.
The 2010 Spring Construction Forecast Conference is now a two-hour webinar to be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 18.
Mark Zandi, of Moody’s Analytics, and Chris Varvares, of Macroeconomic Advisers, will join NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe for a macro-level look at the state of the nation’s economy and its impact on housing.
To register, visit www.nahb.org/cfc.