Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Housing Starts increase in January

by Calculated Risk on 2/16/2011 08:30:00 AM

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

Total housing starts were at 596 thousand (SAAR) in January, up 14.6% from the revised December rate of 520 thousand, and up 25% from the all time record low in April 2009 of 477 thousand (the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959).

The increase in starts in January was entirely because of multi-family starts.

Single-family starts decreased 1.0% to 413 thousand in January - the lowest level since early 2009.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing StartsThe second graph shows total and single unit starts since 1968. This shows the huge collapse following the housing bubble, and that housing starts have mostly been moving sideways for over two years - with slight ups and downs due to the home buyer tax credit.

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

Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 596,000. This is 14.6 percent (±15.7%)* above the revised December estimate of 520,000, but is 2.6 percent (±9.8%)* below the January 2010 rate of 612,000.

Single-family housing starts in January were at a rate of 413,000; this is 1.0 percent (±8.6%)* below the revised December figure of 417,000. The January rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 171,000.

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 562,000. This is 10.4 percent (±1.8%) below the revised December rate of 627,000 and is 10.7 percent(±1.2%) below the January 2010 estimate of 629,000.

Single-family authorizations in January were at a rate of 421,000; this is 4.8 percent (±2.3%) below the revised December figure of 442,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 125,000 in January.
This was above expectations of 540 thousand starts, but still very low. The low level of starts is good news for housing, and I expect starts to stay low until more of the excess inventory of existing homes is absorbed.

Multi-family starts will rebound in 2011, but completions will probably be at or near record lows since it takes over a year to complete most multi-family projects.