Housing Starts Increase in March after Dismal February

April 20, 2011 (Jeff Alan)
The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the New Residential Construction Report for March 2011 showing gains in both housing starts and housing permits following a dismal February report. The jointly released report reveals that privately owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 549,000 units, which was an increase of 7.2 percent above the revised February estimate of 512,000 units.

Housing starts are still 13.4 percent lower than March of 2010 which had an adjusted annual rate of 634,000 units.

Both single-family units and buildings with five or more units showed increases for the month with 422,000 starts for single family housing and 117,000 for buildings with five or more units. Compared to February, single family housing starts were 7.7 percent higher from a revised 392,000 starts in the previous month, and buildings with five or more units were 22 percent higher than the 96,000 from the previous month.

Building permits also increased in March as 594,000 were authorized for the month compared to 534,000 in February. The amount of permits authorized is still 13.3 percent less than the same time last year when 685,000 building permits were authorized.

Single-family authorizations increased 5.7 percent to 405,000 compared to February’s figure of 383,000. Permits issued for buildings with five or more units were authorized at a rate of 173,000 for March. Last month that figure was at 121,000.

Building permits are a sign of future building activity and would indicate increased construction activity in future new home construction.

Privately-owned housing completions decreased 14.2 percent in March at a seasonally adjusted rate of 509,000 units compared to February’s 593,000. The number of completions is also far below March of 2010’s rate of 643,000 units.

Single-family homes were completed at a rate of 374,000 units which is 22.2 percent below February’s revised rate of 481,000. The completion rate for buildings with five of more units was at a seasonally adjusted rate of 130,000.

Tags: housing starts, building permits, single family home, construction, buildings with five or more units, housing completions

Census Bureau