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Multifamily Drop Pushes Housing Starts Down


Led by a steep drop in multifamily production, nationwide housing starts fell 11 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.06 million units in October, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. Multifamily starts declined 25.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 338,000 units while single-family production edged down 2.4 percent to 722,000 units. Both sectors posted permit gains.

“The fact that permits are rising is consistent with our builders’ continued optimism in the housing market,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “Even though starts dropped in October, they have stayed above the one million mark for seven straight months — the longest streak in almost seven years.”

“This month’s decline can be attributable to the volatile multifamily sector adjusting to trend after an unusually high September, as well as the storms and flooding affecting single-family production in the South,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, with permits ticking upward, we expect to see the housing market continue to grow at a modest pace.”

Combined single- and multifamily starts rose in the Northeast and Midwest, with respective gains of 10.2 and 15 percent. Meanwhile the South fell 18.6 percent and the West dropped 16.2 percent.

Overall permit issuance rose 4.1 percent to 1.15 million units in October. Multifamily permits rose 6.8 percent to a rate of 439,000 while single-family permits increased 2.4 percent to 711,000.

Regionally, the Northeast, Midwest and South posted respective permit gains of 5.9 percent, 2.4 percent and 7.5 percent. The West fell 2.6 percent.