Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Housing Starts decreased sharply to 897 thousand Annual Rate in February

by Bill McBride on 3/17/2015 08:30:00 AM

From the Census Bureau: Permits, Starts and Completions

Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 897,000. This is 17.0 percent below the revised January estimate of 1,081,000 and is 3.3 percent (±12.5%)* below the February 2014 rate of 928,000.

Single-family housing starts in February were at a rate of 593,000; this is 14.9 percent (±10.0%) below the revised January figure of 697,000. The February rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 297,000.
emphasis added

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,092,000. This is 3.0 percent above the revised January rate of 1,060,000 and is 7.7 percent above the February 2014 estimate of 1,014,000.

Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 620,000; this is 6.2 percent (±0.9%) below the revised January figure of 661,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 445,000 in February.
Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts Click on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows single and multi-family housing starts for the last several years.

Multi-family starts (red, 2+ units) decreased sharply in February.  Multi-family starts are down 10% year-over-year.

Single-family starts (blue) decreased in February and are up slightly year-over-year.

The second graph shows total and single unit starts since 1968.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts The second graph shows the huge collapse following the housing bubble, and then - after moving sideways for a couple of years - housing is now recovering (but still historically low),

This was well below expectations of 1.040 million starts in February, although starts in January were revised up.  Overall this was a weak report, although permits were decent (an indicator for March), and a large portion of the weakness was in the volatile multi-family sector.  I'll have more later ...