After increasing about 4.4% the month prior, housing starts in January reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.065 million units, a drop of about 2% compared to the revised December estimate of 1.087 million units, but 18.7% above the January 2014 rate of 897,000 units, according to figures released from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Starts of single-family homes were at an annual rate of about 678,000 units in January, a drop of about 6.7% compared to the revised December figure of about 727,000 units.
Start of multifamily units (five units or more per structure) were at an annual rate of about 381,000, up 12.1% compared to December's revised annual rate of about 340,000 units.
Building permits in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,053 million, down 0.7% compared to the revised December rate of about 1.060 million, but 8.1% above the January 2014 estimate of about 974,000.
Single-family authorizations were at a rate of about 654,000, down 3.1% compared to the revised December figure of 675,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of about 372,000.
Housing completions in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 930,000, up 1.3% compared to the revised December estimate of 918,000 and 9.4% above the January 2014 rate of 850,000.
Of those, about 649,000 were single-family units – up 2.3% compared to 664,000 single-family units in December – while about 274,000 were multifamily units.
In its analysis of the results, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) attributed the drop in starts to a 22.2% decrease in production in the Midwest that was primarily due to severe weather hitting that area of the country. Total starts also fell 3.5% in the Northeast and 3.4% in the West.
Looking at permit activity regionally, the Northeast and West registered gains of 29.5% and 16.8%, respectively, while the Midwest and South dropped 16% and 8.7%.
‘After a strong single-family report in December, it is not surprising to see some pull back in January,’ says David Crowe, chief economist for NAHB. ‘With continued job creation and a growing economy, single-family production should make gains in the year ahead.’