Single-family housing starts surged in February to their highest level since late 2007, the Commerce Department reports. Overall, nationwide housing starts, including for single-family and multifamily sectors, increased 3 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.288 million units.
Broken out, single-family production rose 6.5 percent in February to 872,000 units, the highest reading in nearly a decade. Multifamily starts, on the other hand, plunged 3.7 percent last month to 416,000 units. “The growth in the single-family arena is very encouraging, but may be partly attributable to unusually warm weather conditions throughout most of the country,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. “The modest drop in multifamily starts is in line with our forecast, which calls for this sector to continue to stabilize in 2017.”
Single-family and multifamily housing production saw the largest increases in the West, ticking up 35.7 percent in February month over month. Starts dropped by 9.8 percent in the Northeast, 4.6 percent in the Midwest, and 3.8 percent in the South.
Building permits, a gauge of future construction, fell by 6.2 percent in February due to a drop in multifamily permits, which plunged 21.6 percent to 381,000 units. Single-family permits saw a 3.1 percent gain to 832,000 units, the highest level since September 2007.
“This month’s gain in single-family starts is consistent with rising builder confidence in the housing market,” says Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “We should see single-family production continue to grow throughout the year, tempered somewhat by supply-side constraints such as access to lots and labor.”
Source: National Association of Home Builders