Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Housing Starts in September: Moving Sideways

by Calculated Risk on 10/20/2009 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 590 thousand (SAAR) in September, up 0.5% from the revised August rate, and up sharply from the all time record low in April of 479 thousand (the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959). Starts had rebounded to 590 thousand in June, and have move sideways for four months.

Single-family starts were at 501 thousand (SAAR) in September, up 3.9% from the revised August rate, and 40 percent above the record low in January and February (357 thousand). Just like for total starts, single-family starts have been at this level for four months.

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

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 573,000. This is 1.2 percent (±1.8%)* below the revised August rate of 580,000 and is 28.9 percent (±2.2%) below the September 2008 estimate of 806,000.

Single-family authorizations in September were at a rate of 450,000; this is 3.0 percent (±1.0%) below the revised August figure of 464,000.

Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000. This is 0.5 percent (±9.9%)* above the revised August estimate of 587,000, but is 28.2 percent (±6.7%) below the September 2008 rate of 822,000.

Single-family housing starts in September were at a rate of 501,000; this is 3.9 percent (±9.3%)* above the revised August figure of 482,000.

Housing Completions:
Privately-owned housing completions in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 693,000. This is 10.2 percent (±10.4%)* below the revised August estimate of 772,000 and is 39.6 percent (±5.7%) below the September 2008 rate of 1,148,000.

Single-family housing completions in September were at a rate of 464,000; this is 8.3 percent (±14.3%)* below the revised August figure of 506,000.
Note that single-family completions of 464 thousand are below the level of single-family starts (501 thousand). This suggests residential construction employment maybe be near a bottom.

It appears that single family starts bottomed in January. However, as expected, it appears starts are now moving sideways - and will probably stay near this level until the excess existing home inventory is reduced.