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Starts, permits slide in March

The pace of residential construction is down double digits from a year ago.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Privately‐owned housing starts fell 0.3% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,139,000 from the revised February estimate of 1,142,000.

The March 2019 rate is also 14.2% below the March 2018 rate of 1,327,0000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Single-family starts in March fell 0.4% to 785,000 below the revised February rate of 788,000. The rate for units in buildings with five or more units was 337,000.

“Despite signs of stabilization of confidence in the marketplace, housing affordability continues to be a concern as housing construction weakens into March,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

By region, single-family starts plummeted 21.7% in the Midwest and fell 2.8% in the South. Single-family starts increased 18.8% in the Northeast and 13.9% in the West, however.

Combined single-family and multifamily starts year to date declined 14.2% in the Northeast, 10.9% in the Midwest and 27.1% in the West. Combined starts posted a 1.5% increase in the South.

“Data in the early months of 2019 show single-family starts are off 5% from this time in 2018, with notable weakness in the Midwest and West,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Several factors are negatively affecting the housing market, including excessive regulations, a lack of buildable lots and ongoing labor shortages. Recent declines in mortgage rates should help support the market in future months however.”

Building permits in March dropped 1.7% below the revised February rate of 1,291,000 and are 7.8% below the March 2018 rate of 1,377,000.  It also marked the fourth straight month that single-family permits have fallen.

Single‐family permits in March were at a rate of 808,000, down 1.1% below the revised February figure of 817,000.

Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 425,000 in March.

Permits on year to date basis are down 3.7% in the Midwest, 0.4% in the South and 16.9% in in the West. In the Northeast, permits were flat.

 

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