January starts dip from December's pace

Year-over-year residential construction activity is another story, entirely.

Housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,246,000, according to data the U.S. Department of Commerce released Thrusday morning. This figure is down 2.6% from the revised December estimate of 1,279,000. Yet, compared to a year ago, starts are up 10.5%.

Single-family starts in January rose 1.9% to a pace of 823,000 — a stat that points clearly at the multi-family housing sector as the cause of the month-to-month overall decline.

More good news for dealers: Permits increased 4.6% from the prior month at a rate of 1,285,000. On a year-over-year basis, permits are up 8.2%.

The biggest percentage gain in residential construction came in the Northeast, where total starts jumped 55.4% on a month-to-month basis. On the other extreme end of regional performance, total starts declined 41.3% in the West, compared to December 2016.

With the January residential construction report comes a revised look at 2016. The final tally for housing starts now stands at 1,174,300, up 5.6% from 2015.

Single-family starts in 2016 increased 9.4% to 781,600.

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