March housing starts fail to impress
Sure, housing starts were up 14.2% over March 2015, but more was expected in the latest tally from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate for March came in at 1,089,000, down 8.5% from the upwardly revised February estimate of 1,194,000. Most analysts were expecting a modest 1,160,000 for the month.
Single-family starts were down 9.2% to a rate of 764,000.
Building permits also produced little to cheer about. March’s numbers for authorized permits was 1,086,000, 7.7% below the February rate of 1,177,000.
Still, the National Association of Home Builders describes the landscape as one of slow growth.
"Single-family starts are off from their strong showing in February but this slowdown represents a return to a long-run, gradual growth trend that is consistent with builder confidence levels, which are overall positive," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "While we are also seeing a monthly decline on the multifamily front, multifamily construction is expected to level off at a solid rate given the high level of rental housing demand."
On a regional basis:
• Northeast: up 61.3% over last month, up 21.0% over last year;
• Midwest: down 25.4% over last month, up 5.6% over last year;
• South: down 8.4% over last month, up 8.6% over last year; and
• West: down 15.7% over last month, up 30.8% over last year.
Stat watch: Suppliers stay, suppliers go
With change comes opportunity, according to all the business experts. And when a builder changes a supplier, there's opportunity for the new supplier to grow, and opportunity for the outcast supplier to figure out what went wrong, and improve.
According to pro market research from the Farnsworth Group, 57% of total professionals said they have the same primary suppliers as they did five years ago, compared to 13.3% who said they switched.
Among total professionals:
57.0% — no change from 5 years ago
15.1% — give more business to primary supplier
14.6% — give less business to primary supplier
13.3% — switched to new primary supplier.
Things were a little more stable in 2013, when 64% claimed no change with their primary supplier. And there continues to be willingness for builders, remodelers and tradesmen to change or use different or various outlets, according to Farnsworth.
Builders appear slightly more likely than remodelers or tradesmen to change their primary suppliers — 14.1% of Builders said they switched, compared to 14.0% for tradesmen and 12.5% for remodelers.
More builders also say they have given less business over the last five years to their primary supplier — 21.0%, compared to 12.5% for remodelers, and 11.6% for tradesmen.