January Housing Starts Soar Nearly 10%

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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 January rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.326 million, an increase of 9.7% from the upwardly revised December rate of 1.209 million and an increase of 7.3% compared with the January 2017 rate of 1.236 million.

The revision to the November rate added 2,000 new housing starts from the previously reported total. The consensus estimate from a survey of economists expected a rate of around 1.232 million.

Single-family housing starts rose month over month by 31,000 in January to 877,000. The increase reflects jumps of 34.7% in the Northeast and 9.3% in the South.

The seasonally adjusted rate of new building permits rose to 1.396 million, up 7.4% over the upwardly revised December rate of 1.300 million and by identical amounts compared to January 2017.

Permits for new single-family homes fell month over month in January from a revised annual rate of 881,000 in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 866,000. The rate rose 7.4% year over year.

Multifamily starts for buildings with five or more units decreased by 1.5% year over year in January and fell by 2.9% compared with December. This number is more volatile than the single-family number and has moved mostly sideways since 2013.

In 2017, 1.202 million housing units were started, up 2.4% compared with 2016, and a 10-year high. An estimated 1.263 million permits were issued in 2017, 4.7% higher year over year.