Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Housing Starts at Record Low

by Calculated Risk on 11/19/2008 08:29:00 AM

Total housing starts were at 791 thousand (SAAR) in October, the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959.

Single-family starts were at 531 thousand in October; the lowest level since October 1981. Single-family permits were at 460 thousand in October, suggesting single family starts will fall even further next month.

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

Building permits decreased:

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000. This is 12.0 percent below the revised September rate of 805,000 and is 40.1 percent below the revised October 2007 estimate of 1,182,000.

Single-family authorizations in October were at a rate of 460,000; this is 14.5 percent below the September figure of 538,000.
On housing starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 791,000. This is 4.5 percent below the revised September estimate of 828,000 and is 38.0 percent below the revised October 2007 rate of 1,275,000.

Single-family housing starts in October were at a rate of 531,000; this is 3.3 percent below the September figure of 549,000.
And on completions:
Privately-owned housing completions in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,043,000. This is 10.2 percent below the revised September estimate of 1,161,000 and is 25.6 percent below the revised October 2007 rate of 1,401,000.

Single-family housing completions in October were at a rate of 760,000; this is 7.7 percent below the September figure of 823,000.
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 decline sharply soon.

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

Total housing starts were at an annual pace of 791 thousand units in October, the lowest rate on record.

Starts for single family structures (531 thousand) were the lowest since Oct 1981. The Census Bureau has been tracking starts since Jan 1959, and the lowest month for single family structures was Oct 1981 (523 thousand units SAAR) - so it is possible that a new record low will be set in November 2008.