Housing starts were at an annual rate of about 1.206 million units as of September – an increase of 6.5% compared with a slightly adjusted August rate of 1.132 million units and an increase of 17.5% compared with the September 2014 rate of 1.026 million units, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Building permits, meanwhile, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.103 million – an decrease of 5.0% compared with the revised August rate of 1.161 million but an increase of 4.7% compared with the September 2014 estimate of 1,053 million.
Permits for single-family homes were at a rate of 697,000 – a decrease of 0.3% compared with the revised August figure of 699,000. Permits for multifamily dwellings (five units or more) were at a rate of 369,000.
Builders had completed about 1,028 million residential units as of September – an increase of 7.5% compared with the revised August estimate of 956,000 and 8.4% above the September 2014 rate of 948,000.
Single-family housing completions were at a rate of 643,000, a decrease of 1.8% compared with the revised August rate of 655,000. The annual rate for completed multifamily units was 378,000, up 29.0% from 293,000 units in August.
Home builders are increasingly enthusiastic about the housing market. It would seem that strong demand for new homes due to a long-term lack of inventory, an improving job market and low mortgage rates are giving real estate investors and developers increasing confidence to move forward with plans for new residential construction.
‘This recovery is all about jobs,’ said David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), during a recent webinar presented by the organization. ‘If people can get good jobs that pay decent incomes, the housing market will continue to move forward.’
Unfortunately, most of the jobs created in the past year have been in the service sector and, thus, don't offer wages high enough to realistically boost home ownership.
What's more, shortages of skilled labor, scarce availability of building lots and increasing prices for construction materials are creating headwinds for home builders, NAHB reports.