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Housing Starts: Stronger Than Expected With Positive Revisions

March 16, 2017
Bottom Line: Housing starts rose in February. The three month average is now 1271k, still above the 6-month average of 1223k, indicating the trend remains steadily higher for starts. Multifamily starts declined for the second consecutive month. Single-family home starts increased moderately. Building permits declined by 6.2% and were driven by the volatile multi-family sector. Single-family permits rose modestly. Overall, the trend in single-family housing starts remains remarkably steady, growing in the face of four months of higher mortgage rates. Multifamily starts, while volatile, are still trending modestly higher.

Housing Starts ROSE by 3.0% in February to 1288k, compared with market expectations for an increase to 1264k. Meanwhile, the prior month was revised slightly higher from 1,246k to 1,251k. Housing starts had been slowly climbing, albeit amid substantial volatility, since reaching their cyclical nadir in April 2009 However, they are now 6.2% ABOVE their year ago level. And they are still a sharp 43.3% BELOW their January 2006 peak.

Single Family Housing Starts ROSE by 6.5% to 872k. Single family housing starts are 3.2% ABOVE their year ago level but still 52.2% BELOW their January 2006 peak.

Multifamily Housing Starts FELL by 3.5% to 416k. Multifamily starts are now 13.0% ABOVE their year ago level.