Housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 1.099 million, a decrease of 3.8% compared with the revised December estimate of 1.143 million, but an increase of 1.8% compared with 1.080 million in January 2015, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Starts fell in all four regions in January, with the Midwest, Northeast, South and West posting respective losses of 12.8%, 3.7%, 2.9% and 0.4%.
Starts of single-family homes were at a rate of about 731,000, a decrease of 3.9% compared with the revised December estimate of about 761,000. Starts of multi-family units (five units or more per dwelling) were at a rate of about 354,000, a decrease of 2.5% compared with about 363,000 in December.
Permits for new homes were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.202 million, a decrease of 0.2% compared with the revised December rate of about 1.204 million but an increase of 13.5% compared with about 1.059 million in January 2015.
Permits for single-family homes were at a rate of about 720,000, a decrease of 1.6% compared with the revised December figure of about 732,000. Permits for multi-family units were at a rate of about 442,000 in January, an increase of 1.1% compared with about 437,000 in December.
Housing completions were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 1.057 million in January, an increase of 2.0% compared with the revised December estimate of 1.036 million and an increase of 8.4% compared with about 975,000 in January 2015.
Completions of single-family homes in January were at an annual rate of about 693,000; a decrease of 1.4% compared with the revised December rate of about 703,000. Completions of multifamily units were at a rate of about 351,000, an increase of 8.7% compared with 323,000 in December.
“January’s production numbers are in line with our recent [research] and show that builders are being cautious as they face some market uncertainties and supply side constraints,” says Ed Brady, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in a release.
“Despite the modest dip in starts this month, we expect to see ongoing, gradual growth in housing production in 2016,” adds David Crowe, chief economist for NAHB. “An improving economy, solid job creation and pent-up demand for housing should keep the market moving forward.”
Earlier this week, NAHB reported that builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes fell three points to 58 in February from an upwardly revised January reading of 61 on its housing market index.
“Though builders report the dip in confidence this month is partly attributable to the high cost and lack of availability of lots and labor, they are still positive about the housing market,” Brady says. “Of note, they expressed optimism that sales will pick up in the coming months.”