March 21, 2012 (Chris Moore)
Housing starts declined slightly nationwide in February as single-family home starts suffered their first decline in four months while multi-family housing starts remained strong according to the latest data released by the Census Bureau.
Filings for building permits were at their highest level since October of 2008, an indication that builders are showing improved confidence that this may finally be the year that the battered housing market turns around.
Privately owned housing starts fell by 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 in February from a revised estimate of 706,000 in January. Housing starts were 34.7 percent higher than in February 2011 which had an estimated 518,000 starts.
Single-family housing starts declined in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 457,000, down 9.9 percent from a revised estimate of 507,000 starts in January, but up 17.8 percent from February of last year which reported an estimated 388,000 starts. It was the first time in four months that single-family housing starts posted a decline.
Housing starts for multi-family dwellings increased 28.7 percent from a revised rate of 181,000 starts in January to a seasonally adjusted rate of 233,000 starts in February. Housing starts for multi-family dwellings were 108.0 percent higher than a year ago when an estimated 112,000 starts were recorded.
Regionally, monthly housing starts increased in two of the four regions with the Midwest posting the largest gain of 3.0 percent, followed by the South at 1.5 percent. The Northeast posted the largest decline of 12.3 percent, while the West posted a decline of 5.9 percent.
Compared to a year ago, all four regions posted an increase in housing starts with the Midwest posting the largest increase of 63.5 percent, followed by the West at 41.1 percent with the South and the Northeast reporting gains of 30.3 and 16.4 percent, respectively.
The number of building permits issued in February increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000, up 5.1 percent from a revised estimate of 682,000 permits in January. Authorized building permits were 34.3 percent higher than the February 2011 estimate of 534,000.
Single-family building permit authorizations were 4.9 percent higher in February than January with 472,000 permits authorized in February compared to a revised 450,000 in January. Building permit authorizations for single-family homes were 34.3 percent higher than in February of last year which had an estimated 534,000 permits issued.
Multi-family dwelling permits in February increased slightly to 219,000 authorizations from a revised total of 212,000 in January, an increase of 3.3 percent. Authorizations for multi-family dwellings were 59.9 percent higher than in February of last year which had an estimated 137,000 authorizations.
Building permit authorizations increased in three of the four regions in February compared to January. In the Midwest, authorizations increased 14.7 percent closely followed by a 14.3 percent increase in the Northeast while the West recorded an increase of 12.8 percent. In the South, building permit authorizations were 1.9 percent below January’s tally.
Year-over-year, building permit authorizations increased in all four regions with the West posting the largest increase of 45.4 percent, followed by the Northeast which posted a 39.7 percent increase and the Midwest and the South saw gains of 36.0 and 28.8 percent, respectively.
Housing completions increased by 6.2 percent in February compared to January with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 568,000 completions reported in February compared to January’s revised estimate of 535,000 completions. Housing completions were 7.0 percent lower than in February of last year when an estimated 611,000 completions were reported.
Single-family completions in February were at a rate of 421,000, which was 8.2 percent higher than January’s revised rate of 389,000 and 7.0 percent lower than last year’s rate of 482,000. Multi-family completions in February were at a rate of 144,000, 4.3 percent higher than the 138,000 units completed in January and 19.0 percent higher than the 121,000 completions in February of last year.
Tags: housing starts, single-family homes, multi-family dwellings, building permits, housing completions