In August, U.S. home starts remained well and truly "kayoed" according to the latest monthly report from the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Groundbreakings in the latest month were 571,000 units, seasonally adjusted and annualized, a drop of 5.0% from July’s 601,000-unit level. They were also down 5.8% versus August 2010.
The August report does contain a glimmer or two of better news. Building permits, which are an advance indicator of starts, rose 3.2% in the month to 620,000 units versus 601,000 in July. That also placed them 7.8% above the August 2010 level of 575,000 units. And completions continue to fall month over month, which will help to remove unsold inventory, eventually tightening up the market.
Year-to-date U.S. home starts are down 3.5% versus the first eight months of last year.
Single-family homes, which make up nearly three-quarters of the total, account for all of the decline. January to August single-family starts on average were -13.8% versus the same period last year.
The much smaller multi-family market recorded a significant 40.3% year-to-date increase.