March Housing Starts Down 5.8%; Permits Up 4.5%

The U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported this morning that permits for privately owned housing construction were issued at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 747,000 units in March.  This is an increase of 4.5 percent from the revised February rate of 715,000 and a 30.1 percent jump from the 574,000 pace set in March 2011.  February’s permits were originally estimated at 717,000.

Permits were issued for single family homes at a rate of 462,000, down 3.5 percent from the upwardly revised (from 472,000) February figure of 479.000.  Construction was authorized for 262,000 units in buildings of five or more units, an increase of 24.2 percent from the previous month.  The multi-family permitting rate was originally thought to have surged in February to 233,000 units from 212,000 in January; instead the revised rate of 211,000 was a net loss from the previous month.

Housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000, a 5.8 percent decrease from the revised February estimate of 694,000 but 10 percent above the March 2011 rate of 593,000.  The February number was revised down from an original estimate of 698,000.

The pace of single family starts was down 0.2 percent from February to 462,000 and the start rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 178,000 compared to 222,000 in February.  Single family starts for February, originally estimated at 457,000 were revised up to 463,000.

Housing units were completed at a rate of 600,000, 4.3 percent above the revised February figure of 576,000 and 0.5 percent higher than the rate of 597,000 one year earlier.  Single family completions were at a rate of 440,000, 1.4 percent higher than the February pace of 434,000.

At the end of the period there were 88,400 permits issued for which construction had not yet begun compared to 79,000 the month before.  Of this number 46,700 permits were for single family houses, up from 44,200.  An estimated 447,000 homes are under construction compared to 445,000 in February and 420,000 one year ago.

Here are the results on a regional basis.

 

Region

 

March Permits

% chg.

Feb -Mar

% chg. Mar ’11 – Mar. ’12

 

Mar. Starts

% chg.

Feb – Mar

% chg. Mar ’11 – Mar ’12

Northeast

79,000

-6.0

31.7

89,000

32.8

45.9

Midwest

121,000

1.7

28.7

102,000

1.0

25.9

South

368,000

0.3

24.3

334,000

-15.9

-0.9

West

179,000

23.4

44.4

129,000

0.0

13.2

…(read more)

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