Housing Starts Decline as Multi-Family Plummets

April 18, 2012 (Chris Moore)

Housing starts declined again for a second consecutive month in March spurred by a near twenty percent drop in multi-family activity while single-family home starts remained flat according to the latest data released by the Census Bureau.

Filings for building permits increased for another month despite a decline in single-family building permits that was easily made up for by a surge in building permits for multi-family housing.

Housing Starts:

Privately owned housing starts fell by 5.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000 in March from a revised estimate of 694,000 in February. Housing starts were still 10.3 percent higher than in March 2011 which had an estimated 593,000 starts.

Single-family housing starts declined in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 462,000, down 0.8 percent from a revised estimate of 463,000 starts in February, but up 10.5 percent from March of last year which reported an estimated 418,000 starts. It was the second consecutive month that single-family housing starts posted a decline.

Housing starts for multi-family dwellings fell 19.8 percent from a revised rate of 222,000 starts in February to a seasonally adjusted rate of 178,000 starts in March. Housing starts for multi-family dwellings were still 8.5 percent higher than a year ago when an estimated 164,000 starts were recorded.

Regionally, monthly housing starts increased in two of the four regions with the Northeast posting the largest increase of 32.8 percent, followed by the Midwest at 1.0 percent. The South posted the only decline of 15.9 percent, while the West remained unchanged from the previous month.

Compared to a year ago, three of the four regions posted an increase in housing starts with the Northeast posting the largest increase of 45.9 percent, followed by the Midwest and the West at 25.9 and 13.2 percent, respectively, while the South reported the only decline of 0.9 percent.

Building Permits:

The number of building permits issued in March increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 747,000, up 4.5 percent from a revised estimate of 715,000 permits in February. Authorized building permits were 30.1 percent higher than the March 2011 estimate of 574,000.

Single-family building permit authorizations were 3.5 percent lower in March than February with 462,000 permits authorized in March compared to a revised 479,000 in February. Building permit authorizations for single-family homes were 17.9 percent higher than in March of last year which had an estimated 392,000 permits issued.

Multi-family dwelling permits in March increased to 262,000 authorizations from a revised total of 211,000 in February, an increase of 24.2 percent. Authorizations for multi-family dwellings were 57.8 percent higher than in March of last year which had an estimated 166,000 authorizations.

Building permit authorizations increased in three of the four regions in March compared to February. In the West, authorizations increased 23.4 percent followed by a 1.7 percent increase in the Midwest while the South recorded a modest increase of 0.3 percent. In the Northeast, building permit authorizations were off 6.0 percent from February’s tally.

Year-over-year, building permit authorizations increased in all four regions with the West posting the largest increase of 44.4 percent, followed by the Northeast which posted a 31.7 percent increase and the Midwest and the South saw gains of 28.7 and 24.3 percent, respectively.

Housing Completions:

Housing completions increased by 4.2 percent in March compared to February with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 600,000 completions reported in March compared to February’s revised estimate of 576,000 completions. Housing completions were 0.5 percent higher than in March of last year when an estimated 597,000 completions were reported.

Single-family completions in March were at a rate of 440,000, which was 1.4 percent higher than February’s revised rate of 434,000 and 17.6 percent above than last year’s rate of 374,000. Multi-family completions in March were at a rate of 146,000, 5.8 percent higher than the 138,000 units completed in February but 32.1 percent below the 215,000 completions in March of last year.

Tags: housing starts, single-family homes, multi-family dwellings, building permits, housing completions

Source:
Census Bureau