Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Housing Starts Flat in July

by Bill McBride on 8/18/2009 08:30:00 AM

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

Total housing starts were at 581 thousand (SAAR) in July, off slightly from June, but up sharply over the last three months from the all time record low in April of 479 thousand (the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959).

Single-family starts were at 490 thousand (SAAR) in July, up slightly from June; 37 percent above the record low in January and February (357 thousand).

Permits for single-family units were 458 thousand in July, suggesting single-family starts might decline slightly in August.

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

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000. This is 1.8 percent (±1.4%) below the revised June rate of 570,000 and is 39.4 percent (±1.8%) below the July 2008 estimate of 924,000.

Single-family authorizations in July were at a rate of 458,000; this is 5.8 percent (±1.1%) above the revised June figure of 433,000.

Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 581,000. This is 1.0 percent (±8.5%)* below the revised June estimate of 587,000 and is 37.7 percent (±5.1%) below the July 2008 rate of 933,000.

Single-family housing starts in July were at a rate of 490,000; this is 1.7 percent (±7.1%)* above the revised June figure of 482,000.

Housing Completions:
Privately-owned housing completions in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 802,000. This is 0.9 percent (±10.1%)* below the revised June estimate of 809,000 and is 26.4 percent (±6.9%) below the July 2008 rate of 1,089,000.

Single-family housing completions in July were at a rate of 491,000; this is 4.1 percent (±8.9%)* below the revised June figure of 512,000.
Note that single-family completions of 491 thousand are at the same level as single-family starts (490 thousand).

It now appears that single family starts bottomed in January. However I expect starts to remain at fairly low levels for some time as the excess inventory is worked off.