Housing Starts Rise 3.2% But Single-Family Starts Dive Another 4.6%

Housing starts rebounded in December but the strength is entirely in multi-family units.

The Census bureau's Monthly New Residential Construction report shows housing starts are up 3.2% but from a revised-lower October.

Building Permits

Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,328,000. This is 5.0 percent (±1.6 percent) above the revised October rate of 1,265,000 and is 0.4 percent (±1.7 percent) above the November 2017 rate of 1,323,000. Single‐family authorizations in November were at a rate of 848,000; this is 0.1 percent (±1.4 percent) above the revised October figure of 847,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 441,000 in November.

Housing Starts

Privately‐owned housing starts in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,256,000. This is 3.2 percent (±9.8 percent) above the revised October estimate of 1,217,000 but is 3.6 percent (±9.4 percent) below the November 2017 rate of 1,303,000. Single‐family housing starts in November were at a rate of 824,000; this is 4.6 percent (±8.4 percent) below the revised October figure of 864,000. The November rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 417,000, up 24.9 percent.

Housing Completions

Privately‐owned housing completions in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,099,000. This is 0.4 percent (±8.7 percent) above the revised October estimate of 1,095,000 but is 3.9 percent (±11.5 percent) below the November 2017 rate of 1,144,000. Single‐family housing completions in November were at a rate of 772,000; this is 5.4 percent (±7.6 percent) below the revised October rate of 816,000. The November rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 314,000.

Confidence Ranges

Not the confidence ranges of starts and completions: ±7.6 percent to ±11.5 percent. Revisions are common. I expect a revision to the reported 24.9% jump in multi-family starts.

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