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Real Estate

Home construction slows moving into spring home-buying season

Building permits on the rise, but not for single-family

Despite the increase in need at the start of the spring home-buying season, housing starts fell in March, according to a joint report released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Privately owned housing starts decreased in March to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.22 million. This is a decrease of 6.8% from February’s 1.3 million, but is still 9.2% above last year’s 1.11 million.

Of these, single-family starts rose to a rate of 821,000, a decrease of 6.2% from February’s 875,000.

Click to Enlarge

housing starts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau, HUD)

However, while housing starts may be down, privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits increased in March to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 1.26 million. This is 3.6% above February’s revised rate of 1.22 million and 17% above last year’s 1.08 million.

But single-family authorizations in March decreased 1.1% to an annual rate of 823,000, down from February’s 832,000. This isn’t good news for real estate’s inventory-starved market that is about to enter one of the strongest spring home-buying seasons in recent memory.

Privately-owned housing completions increased to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.21 million, up 3.2% from February’s 1.17 million and up 13.4% from last year’s rate of 1.06 million. Single-family housing completions also fared well, increasing 7.9% from February’s 759,000 to March’s rate of 819,000.

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