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Housing Starts: March Weather Drags Starts Lower

April 18, 2017
Bottom Line: Housing starts slipped in March amid harsh weather in much of the country. But much of the miss was offset by a stronger revision to February data. The three month average is now 1253k, still slightly above the 6-month average of 1251k, indicating the trend amid substantial volatility is still mildly positive. Building permits increased by 3.6% and, while volatile, suggest strength in coming months. Single-family permits fell slightly while multi-family permits rose moderately. Overall, the progress in the housing market has been gradually improving over the past 12 months as starts are rising moderately.

Housing Starts FELL by 6.8% in March to 1215k, compared with market expectations for a decline to 1250k. Meanwhile, the prior month was revised modestly higher from 1,288k to 1,303k. Housing starts had been slowly climbing, albeit amid substantial volatility, since reaching their cyclical nadir in April 2009 However, they are now 9.2% ABOVE their year ago level. And they are still a sharp 46.5% BELOW their January 2006 peak.

Single Family Housing Starts FELL by 6.2% to 821k. Single family housing starts are 9.3% ABOVE their year ago level but still 55.0% BELOW their January 2006 peak.

Multifamily Housing Starts FELL by 8.4% to 394k. Multifamily starts are now 8.8% ABOVE their year ago level.