U.S.: Housing Starts Rise 2.8% in March Over February; March Numbers Down Year Over Year

U.S.: Housing Starts Rise 2.8% in March Over February; March Numbers Down Year Over Year
Photo by David M. Kinchen

 Led by a 6 percent rise in single-family starts, nationwide housing production rose 2.8 percent above an upwardly revised February rate of 920,000 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000 units in March, according to a report released Wednesday, April 16, 2014 by HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau. March 2014 numbers are down 5.9 percent  from the March 2013 rate of 1,005,000.

“We see improving signs of new-home construction as we move into the spring buying season,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.  “The strongest recovery is in the Northeast and Midwest, where builders were hampered by severe winter weather earlier in the year.”

“Today’s report is in line with our forecast of a gradual strengthening in the housing sector in 2014,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, several uncertainties including tight credit conditions for home buyers and erratic job growth are making builders cautious about getting ahead of demand.”

Single-family housing starts rose 6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 635,000 units in March, while multifamily starts fell 6.1 percent to 292,000 units.

Regionally in March, combined single- and multifamily housing production rose strongly in the Northeast and Midwest with gains of 30.7 percent and 65.5 percent, respectively, but fell 9.1 percent and 4.5 percent in the South and West, respectively. 

Overall permit issuance fell 2.4 percent to 990,000 units in March. The Northeast and Midwest posted gains of 33.3 percent and 26 percent, respectively, while the West was unchanged and the South posted a 17.1 percent decline.

Housing units authorized by building permits in March -- a leading indicator of future production -- were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000. This is 2.4 percent below the revised February rate of 1,014,000, but is 11.2 percent  above the March 2013 estimate of 890,000.

Single-family authorizations in March were at a rate of 592,000; this is 0.5 percent   above the revised February figure of 589,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 370,000 in March.

Housing completions in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 872,000. This is 0.2 percent  below the revised February estimate of 874,000, but is 7.7 percent   above the March 2013 rate of 810,000.

Single-family housing completions in March were at a rate of 602,000; this is 3.8 percent  below the revised February rate of 626,000. The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 258,000.

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