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Hurricanes Push Down Housing Production in September


Nationwide housing starts fell 4.7 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.13 million units, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department.

Nationwide single-family production fell 4.6 percent to 829,000 units due to a 15.3 percent decline in the hurricane-ravaged South. All other regions posted gains in the single-family sector, and nationwide single-family permits increased 2.4 percent.

"We are seeing the hurricanes take a toll on single-family production, but builder confidence is strong and production should bounce back as the recovery process gets underway," said Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.

"Looking at historical data, there is a pattern of decreased production immediately following natural disasters but economic fundamentals will drive the longer-term trend in housing starts," said NAHB Senior Economist Michael Neal. "Nationwide single-family permits are up this month, and year-to-date single-family starts are 9.1 percent ahead of their level over the same period last year — two indicators that this sector continues to improve."

Regionally in September, combined single- and multifamily housing production rose 15.7 percent in the West. Starts fell 9.2 percent in the Northeast, 9.3 percent in the South and 20.2 percent in the Midwest.

Overall permit issuance in September was down 4.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.22 million units. Single-family permits rose 2.4 percent to 819,000 units while multifamily permits fell 16.1 percent to 396,000.

Regionally, overall permits rose 9.2 percent in the Northeast and 0.5 percent in the Midwest. Permits fell 5.6 percent in the South and 9.2 percent in the West.