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Housing Starts: Accelerated Into Year-End

January 21, 2021
Bottom Line:  Housing starts rose for the fifth straight month in December.  Single-family starts hit their highest levels in 14+ years as multi-family slipped.  Single-family home starts are firmly in an uptrend as the shift away from more dense urban housing towards single-family since the pandemic has continued to create more demand than the available supply. Builders are pushing hard to meet demand with sing-family permits higher again too.  For now, the trend in multi-family starts remains mixed.  Permits in that segment were lower.  Overall, the housing trend is strong and should provide a source of strength in the economic recovery.
Housing Starts ROSE by 5.8% in December to 1669k, compared with market expectations for an increase to 1560k. Meanwhile, the prior month was revised modestly higher from 1,547k to 1,578k.  Housing starts are now 5.2% ABOVE their year-ago level.  However, they are still a sharp 26.6% BELOW their January 2006 peak.

Single-Family Housing Starts
ROSE by 12.0% to 1338k. Single-family housing starts are 27.8% ABOVE their year-ago level but still 26.6% BELOW their January 2006 peak.
Multifamily Housing Starts
FELL by 13.6% to 331k. Multifamily starts are now 38.7% BELOW their year-ago level.