October Housing Starts Up Sharply as Rebuilding Begins

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The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported Friday morning that new housing starts in October rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million, an increase of 13.7% from the upwardly revised September rate of 1.135 million but a decrease of 2.6% compared with the October 2016 rate of 1.328 million. The consensus estimate from a survey of economists expected a rate of around 1.19 million.

Single-family housing starts rose month over month by 68,000 in October to the highest level so far this year. The increase is likely due to rebuilding following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The reported numbers indicate that building has not yet begun in California following the massively destructive wildfires that hit the state in October.

The revision to the September rate added 8,000 new housing starts from the previously reported total. The seasonally adjusted rate of new building permits rose to 1.297 million, up 5.9% from the upwardly revised September rate of 1.225 million and up 0.9% from the October 2016 rate of 1.285 million. The consensus estimate called for 1.25 million new building permits.

Single-family housing starts also rose in October to an annualized rate of 877,000, up 5.3% from the revised September rate of 833,000. Single-family starts rose by 0.7% year over year in October.

Permits for new single-family homes rose month over month in October from a revised annual rate of 823,000 in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 839,000. The rate rose 7.7% year over year.

Multifamily starts, for buildings with five or more units, decreased by 12.1% year over year in October and rose by 37.4% compared with September. This number is more volatile than the single-family number and has moved mostly sideways since 2013.