Nationwide housing starts fell 8.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.089 million units in March, according to newly released data from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. Overall permit issuance was also down 7.7 percent.
“Single-family starts are off from their strong showing in February but this slowdown represents a return to a long-run, gradual growth trend that is consistent with builder confidence levels, which are overall positive,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “While we are also seeing a monthly decline on the multifamily front, multifamily construction is expected to level off at a solid rate given the high level of rental housing demand.”
“Starts are up at a double-digit rate from a year ago and builders remain fairly optimistic that more consumers will return to the housing market in the months ahead,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill.
Both housing sectors posted production declines this month. Single-family housing starts fell 9.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 units in March while multifamily starts dropped 8.5 percent to 312,000 units. On a year-over-year basis, however, single-family starts were up 22.6 percent.
Combined single- and multifamily starts fell in three of the four regions in March. The Midwest, West and South posted respective losses of 25.4 percent, 15.7 percent and 8.4 percent. The Northeast registered a 61.3 percent gain.
Single-family permits fell 1.2 percent to a rate of 727,000 while multifamily permits dropped 20.5 percent to 359,000.
All four regions posted permit losses in March. The Northeast, Midwest, South and West posted respective drops of 17.9 percent, 3.1 percent, 3.2 percent and 15.4 percent.