The Official Online Weekly Newspaper of NAHB
Nationwide total housing starts rose 10.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 598,000 units in August, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department on Sept. 21, bringing construction activity more in line with its pace before the popular home buyer tax credit temporarily stimulated housing sales earlier this year.
Most of the month’s gain occurred on the more volatile multifamily side, which saw a 32.2% jump to a rate of 160,000 units. Single-family housing production, which increased 4.3% to 438,000 units, was still 9.1% below its pace one year earlier as builders struggled to obtain finance and remained cautious about sustained demand.
“The vast majority of builders in this country operate small, single-family home building firms and they are struggling to obtain acquisition, development and construction financing that will enable them to meet the current level of buyer demand and put more Americans back to work,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones.
“The housing market has been in a holding pattern as the economy stalled in the second and third quarters,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Construction activity returned to pre-home buyer tax credit levels in August as builders replaced sold single-family homes and began replenishing apartment building supply after a three-year steady decline in multifamily construction.”
“Consumer uncertainty about the economy, the poor job market and the large number of foreclosed properties for sale continue to be a drag on housing. However, favorable home buying conditions should help spur additional demand as the job market gradually improves later this year,” he added.
Three regions of the country registered improved starts activity in August, with the Midwest, South and West posting gains of 21.7%, 7.0% and 34.3%, respectively. Starts declined 24.3% in the Northeast.
Permit issuance, which can be an indicator of future building activity, rose 1.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 569,000 units in August. All of the gains were on the multifamily side, which rose 9.7% to 168,000 units.
Single-family permits fell 1.2% to 401,000 units, 6.7% below the rate of August 2009. Regionally, permits were up 19.0% in the West, remained flat in the Northeast and fell 5.3% in the Midwest and 2.5% in the South in August.
The Fall Construction Forecast Conference (CFC) Webinar will feature three distinct perspectives on the housing industry and its near- and long-term future. The webinar will be held from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 27.
Speakers David Crowe, NAHB chief economist; Eric Belsky, managing director with Harvard University’s Joint Center For Housing Studies; and Maury Harris, managing director and chief U.S. economist with UBS, will present the latest economic data and opinion in a streamlined, efficient format that will enable attendees to interact directly with them.
The fee is $29.95 for NAHB members and home builders associations and $49.95 for non-members.
For more information and to register, visit www.nahb.org/cfc.
Housing and economics followers can get the latest economics and housing policy news, analysis, studies, charts and graphs from NAHB’s free new blog, “Eye on Housing,” at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com.
Featuring NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, as well as observations and comments from NAHB economists Bernie Markstein, Paul Emrath, Robert Dietz, Peter Grist and Robert Denk, the blog also includes links to relevant housing stories and information from other news sources.
Blog entries will be updated on a regular basis as the news related to housing occurs. The blog also will replace the content in NAHB’s Eye on the Economy. While subscribers will still receive their regular issues of Eye on the Economy, the e-newsletter will serve primarily as a digest of the content featured on the "Eye on Housing" blog.
Readers can either visit the free blog directly at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com, or subscribe to the RSS feed on the blog to have the latest entries sent to them as they are posted.
Want to Know Your State’s Starts Forecast for 2010-2011?
Find out in HousingEconomic.com’s State Starts Forecast (sample).
The starts forecast include downloadable Excel tables of total, single-family and multifamily starts by region and state.
To learn more, visit www.housingeconomics.com.