Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Housing Starts Decline to Record Low

by Bill McBride on 12/16/2008 08:32:00 AM

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Total housing starts were at 625 thousand (SAAR) in November, by far the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959.

Single-family starts were at 441 thousand in November; also the lowest level ever recorded (since 1959). Single-family permits were at 412 thousand in November, suggesting single family starts may fall even further next month.

Here is the Census Bureau report on housing Permits, Starts and Completions.

Building permits decreased:

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 616,000.
This is 15.6 percent below the revised October rate of 730,000 and is 48.1 percent below the revised November 2007 estimate of 1,187,000.

Single-family authorizations in November were at a rate of 412,000; this is 12.3 percent below the October figure of 470,000..
On housing starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 625,000. This is 18.9 percent below the revised October estimate of 771,000 and is 47.0 percent below the revised November 2007 rate of 1,179,000.

Single-family housing starts in November were at a rate of 441,000; this is 16.9 percent (±8.5%) below the October figure of 531,000.
And on completions:
Privately-owned housing completions in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,084,000. This is 3.3 percent above the revised October estimate of 1,049,000, but is 22.8 percent below the revised November 2007 rate of 1,404,000.

Single-family housing completions in November were at a rate of 760,000; this is 0.9 percent above the October figure of 753,000.
Notice that single-family completions are significantly higher than single-family starts. This is important because residential construction employment tends to follow completions, and completions will probably continue to decline.

A VERY weak report ...