Starts step back in December

The latest residential construction tally includes a steep single-family decline

The year of residential construction ended with a dud in December. Housing starts slipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,192,000 — down 8.2% from the revised November estimate.

Single-family starts in December were at a pace of 836,000 — down 11.8% from the revised November figure. Single-family building permits were up 1.8%.

Compared to a year ago, December’s rate of total starts were down 6.0%. And for those looking for bright spots from a dreary report, single-family starts increased 3.5% year-over-year.

Despite the variety of declines contained in Thursday morning’s report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the preliminary 12-month total for 2017 housing starts — not the rate, but the actual number — rose to 1,202,000. That’s 2.4% above the 2016 figure of 1,173,800.

On a regional basis, the government data showed the following for December’s SAAR:

Year over year change

  • Northeast — down 1.1%
  • Midwest — down 19.8%
  • South — up 2.8%
  • West — up 12.0%

Monthly change

  • Northeast — down 4.3%
  • Midwest — down 2.2%
  • South — down 14.2%
  • West — down 0.9%

View the Census data here.

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