Housing starts sink to 1.006 million

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported housing starts plunged 14.2 percent in December 2007 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.006 million, compared with the November estimate of 1.173 million.

Single-family starts were at 794,000, down 2.9 percent below the November figure of 818,000, with buildings with five or more units dropping 41.1 percent.

Regionally, the Northeast saw a total decline of 25.8 percent, with a drop for single-family units of 7.4 percent. The Midwest saw a total decline of 30.8 percent, with a drop for single-family units of 9.3 percent. The South saw a total decline of 3.3 percent, with a drop of single-family units at 5.4 percent. The West saw a 19.6 percent decline, with a drop for single-family units at 16.3 percent.

“The 14.2 percent decline in overall housing starts for the month of December was due primarily to a 40 percent drop-off in the multi-family sector, which tends to display significant month-to-month volatility,” noted NAHB chief economist David Seiders. “On a quarterly basis, multi-family production actually has held up relatively well since the peak in the early part of 2006.”

The DOC reported an estimated 1,353,700 housing units built in 2007, down 24.5 percent from 1,800,900 in 2006.

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