Housing Starts: Builders Ramp Up for Summer Selling Season, Trend Still Mixed

June 18, 2019
Bottom Line: Housing starts were stronger than expected in May and revised higher for April. Gains were driven by the volatile multifamily sector. The overall trend in housing starts remains mostly sideways. While there were hints of improvement with this report, the gains in single-family sales were less impressive. The trend for single-family starts remains modestly lower with the three-month average at 843k annualized, below the six- and 12-month averages, 850k and 854k, respectively. Finally, single-family permits rose modestly while multi-family permits fell modestly, suggesting more of a mixed trend for both sectors in coming months. Housing Starts FELL by 0.9% in May to 1269k, compared with market expectations for an increase to 1239k. However, the prior month was revised moderately higher from 1,235k to 1,281k. Housing starts are now 4.7% BELOW their year ago level. However, they are still a sharp 44.2% BELOW their January 2006 peak. Single Family Housing Starts FELL by 6.4% to 820k. Single family housing starts are 12.5% BELOW their year ago level but still 55.0% BELOW their January 2006 peak. Multifamily Housing Starts ROSE by 10.9% to 449k. Multifamily starts are now 13.7% ABOVE their year ago level.