A 31.7% plunge in U.S. multifamily housing starts to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 304,000 units dragged total residential activity down 14.4% from July to August to a 956,000-unit pace. Nevertheless, total U.S. starts remain 8.0% above the August 2013 annual rate.
Numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development put August single-family housing starts at a rate of 643,000; 2.4% below July, but 4.2% above August 2013.
“The August drop in multifamily starts is not too surprising, given how volatile the numbers have been the last 18 months,” said David Crowe, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “And while single-family starts registered a slight decline, low mortgage rates, affordable home prices and pent-up demand will keep single-family production moving forward in 2014.”
“Our members are telling us that traffic to new model home sites and sales expectations are on the rise,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “Despite the monthly blip, single-family starts are still 8 percent above last year’s level.”
Combined housing starts fell in all regions of the country. The Northeast, Midwest, South and West posted respective drops of 12.9 percent, 10.3 percent, 10.9 percent and 24.7 percent.
Issuance of building permits registered a 5.6 percent loss to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 998,000 units in August. Multifamily permits fell 12.7 percent to 372,000 units while single-family permits decreased 0.8 percent to 626,000 units.
Regionally, the Northeast, Midwest, South and West registered overall permit losses of 11.6 percent, 12.4 percent, 0.6 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively.