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Housing starts soar in August

Residential construction reaches the highest level since June of 2007.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Housing starts increased 12.3% in August to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.364 million from the revised July estimate of 1.215 million, the Commerce Department reported today.

This is the highest level reached since June 2007.

The latest report is 6.6% above the August 2018 rate of 1.279 million. Data for July was also revised upward from the previously reported 1.191 million units.

Single‐family starts rose 4.4% in August to a rate of 919,000 from the July rate of 880,000. Multi-family starts jumped 32.8% to a pace of 445,000.

“This solid report is in line with our latest survey on builder sentiment,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “However, builders continue to wrestle with affordability concerns stemming from excessive regulations and other supply-side challenges.”

Builder confidence rose one point to 68 in September from an upwardly revised August reading of 67, according to the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).

By region, total starts in the Northeast increased 30.5% while single-family starts fell 1.7%. In the Midwest, total starts were up 15.4% as single-family starts jumped 8.7%. Starts in the South increased 14.9% as single-family starts grew 3.6%. Total starts in the West were flat but single-family starts rose 5.3%.

“Housing has been on an upswing in recent months as the pace of permits and starts has been rising since spring,” NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “While these are positive developments, single-family starts are down 2.7% year-to-date as the catch up process continues.”

Building permits in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.419 million, up 7.7% from the revised July rate of 1.317 million and 12% above the August 2018 rate of 1.267 million.

Single-family permits increased 4.5% to 866,000 from the July revised figure of 829,000. Multi-family permits were up 13.3% to a rate of 553,000.

Regionally, total permits soared 26.9% in the Northeast but single-family permits were flat. In the Midwest, total permits shot up 14.5% and single-family permits were up 2.8%. Permits in the South increased 11% while single-family permits grew 7.4%. In the West, permits fell 7.8% as single-family permits were flat.

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