Housing Starts Rise 1.9% on Multifamily Surge

Gains in multifamily production pushed overall housing starts up 1.9% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.32 million units, according to newly released data from HUD and the Commerce Department.

Multifamily production rose 14.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 452,000 units — its highest reading since December 2016. Meanwhile, single-family starts fell 3.7% to 867,000 units.

“Builders are optimistic about future demand for housing and are ramping up production to meet this demand,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel. “Single-family starts dropped slightly this month, but single-family permits year to date are up 5% from their level over this same period in 2017.”

“The modest decline in single-family starts in March is still in line with our solid builder confidence readings and is largely attributable to lingering winter weather that is causing production delays in certain areas of the country,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “With ongoing job creation, wage increases and rising household formations, we can expect continued, gradual strengthening of the housing market in the coming months.”

Regionally in March, combined single- and multifamily housing production increased 22.4% in the Midwest and ticked up 0.8% in the Northeast. Starts inched down 0.6% in the South and 1.5% in the West.

Multifamily strengthening pushed overall permit issuance up 2.5% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.35 million units. Multifamily permits jumped 19% to 514,000 while single-family permits fell 5.5% to 840,000.

Permit issuance rose 9.0% in the Midwest, 3.0% in the West and 2.1% in the South. Permits declined 5.5% in the Northeast.