The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported this morning that new housing starts in January slipped to an annual seasonally adjusted rate of 890,000, a sharp decrease of 8.5% from the downwardly revised December rate of 973,000, but a gain of 23.6% above the January 2012 rate of 720,000. A consensus estimate from a survey of economists expected the rate to fall to 914,000.
The seasonally adjusted rate of new building permits rose to 925,000, which is 1.8% above the upwardly revised December rate of 909,000 and 35.2% higher than the January 2012 rate of 684,000.
Single-family housing starts rose to an annualized rate of 613,000 in January, up 0.8% from the downwardly revised December rate of 608,000.
Permits for new single-family homes rose 1.9% in January to an adjusted annual rate of 584,000, from a downwardly revised total of 573,000 in December.
Although a little weaker than expected, today’s report suffers from a sharp sequential drop of 92,000 in multifamily housing starts. The December 2012 reading on multifamily construction starts was the highest total in the whole year by at least 70,000 units.
The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) yesterday reported a drop in builder confidence, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) this morning reported a drop of 2% in mortgage applications.