Housing Starts: Modest Rebound Amid Weak Trend

May 16, 2019
Bottom Line: Housing starts rose in April, beating expectations as the Northeast and Midwest saw a rebound following harsh winter weather. Nonetheless, the three-month average for starts is still below the six- and 12-month averages, suggesting the trend in starts is still negative. Looking forward to a seasonally stronger period, single family permits were lower again, while multifamily, typically more volatile, were higher. Overall, this is just one stronger month, not enough to change the trend towards slower housing starts. Housing Starts ROSE by 5.7% in April to 1235k, compared with market expectations for an increase to 1209k. Meanwhile, the prior month was revised modestly higher from 1,139k to 1,168k. Housing starts are now 2.5% BELOW their year ago level. However, they are still a sharp 45.7% BELOW their January 2006 peak. Single Family Housing Starts ROSE by 6.2% to 854k. Single family housing starts are 4.3% BELOW their year ago level but still 53.2% BELOW their January 2006 peak. Multifamily Housing Starts ROSE by 4.7% to 381k. Multifamily starts are now 1.6% ABOVE their year ago level.