Housing Starts: Continued Gains

December 17, 2020
Bottom Line: Housing starts rose for the fourth straight month in November as single-family sales edged higher again and multi-family rebounded for the second straight month. Single-family homes, which hit the highest pace of new starts since early 2007, are firmly in an uptrend again after 18 months of stagnation starting in the 2nd half of 2018. For now, the trend in multi-family starts remains mixed but showing signs of improvement. Permits in that segment were higher. That said, the shift away from more dense urban housing towards single-family since the pandemic should continue to make new single-family projects much more attractive to builders than new multi-family projects. Overall, the housing trend is strong and should provide a source of strength in economic recovery.
Housing Starts ROSE by 1.2% in November to 1547k, compared with market expectations for an increase to 1535k. Meanwhile, the prior month was revised slightly lower from 1,530k to 1,528k. Housing starts are now 12.8% ABOVE their year-ago level. However, they are still a sharp 31.9% BELOW their January 2006 peak.
Single-Family Housing Starts ROSE by 0.4% to 1186k. Single-family housing starts are 27.1% ABOVE their year-ago level but still 34.9% BELOW their January 2006 peak.
Multifamily Housing Starts ROSE by 4.0% to 361k. Multifamily starts are now 17.6% BELOW their year-ago level.