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Housing Starts: Decline Mostly Due to Volatile Multifamily

March 16, 2018
Bottom Line: After a surprise jump in January, housing starts fell even more than expected in February as the multifamily sector led the volatility again. Single-family starts were actually higher again at 902k, an annualized pace that is slightly faster than the average of the last 3-months and sharply faster than the average annualized pace of the last 12 months, 859k. Overall the trend in housing starts is modestly higher with a continued steady uptrend in single-family starts enough to offset a volatile sideways to lower multifamily market.

Housing Starts FELL by 7.0% in February to 1236k, compared with market expectations for a decline to 1290k.

Meanwhile, the prior month was revised slightly higher from 1,326k to 1,329k. Housing starts are now 4.0% BELOW their year ago level. However, they are still a sharp 45.6% BELOW their January 2006 peak.

Single Family Housing Starts ROSE by 2.9% to 902k. Single family housing starts are 2.9% ABOVE their year ago level but still 50.5% BELOW their January 2006 peak.

Multifamily Housing Starts FELL by 26.1% to 334k. Multifamily starts are now 18.7% BELOW their year ago level.