Housing Starts FELL by 16.0% in January to 880k, compared with market expectations for a decline to 950k. Meanwhile, the prior month was revised moderately higher from 999k to 1,048k. Housing starts have been slowly climbing, albeit amid substantial volatility, since reaching their cyclical nadir in April 2009 but are now 2.0% BELOW their year ago level. Moreover, they are still a sharp 61.3% BELOW their January 2006 peak.
Single Family Housing Starts FELL by 15.9% to 573k, their lowest level since August 2012. Moreover, Single family housing starts are now 6.7% BELOW their year ago level and are still a stunning 68.6% BELOW their January 2006 peak.
Multifamily Housing Starts FELL by 16.3% to 307k, their lowest level since October and largest monthly drop since June. Multifamily starts have been on a modestly improving trend, amid substantial volatility, over the past 2 years and are now 8.1% ABOVE their year ago level.
Housing starts were mixed across regions. Housing starts in the Northeast saw sharp gains, up 61.9% and are now 35.4% above their 12-month average. The Midwest starts saw modest declines, down 67.7% and are now 65.5% below their 12-month average.
Bottom Line: Housing starts declined for the 2nd straight month to their lowest level since September. Weather likely played a role in slowing down some builders. The three month average is now 1010k, 7% above the 6- month average of 947k. Single-family home sales dropped and are now 6.7% below their year ago levels. Multifamily starts declined as well, their largest monthly drop since June. Building permits declined 5.4% and, while volatile, suggest modest weakness in coming months. Single-family permits fell slightly while multi-family permits fell moderately.