Real Estate

After months of setbacks, housing starts rise nearly 6%

Single-family construction up 6.2% from previous month

Housing starts reversed course in April, climbing nearly 6% from March, according to the latest report from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

According to the analysis, housing starts rose 5.7% in April 2019 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.124 million units.

"New housing construction mirrored improvements in the housing market this past month, from rising inventory to lower mortgage rates and higher consumer confidence,” Senior Economist George Ratiu said. “The National Association of Home Builders' confidence index increased three points this month, indicating higher optimism in current market developments, as well as stronger expectations over the next six months.”

Single-family production climbed 6.2% from last month to 854,000 units while multifamily starts came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 359,000 units.

However, single-family completions declined 4.1% in 2019 to a rate of 918,000, while multifamily starts came in at 381,000 units.

Overall permits fell 0.6% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.31 million.  

Single-family authorizations grew 4.2% from last month’s rate to 782,000 permits and multifamily permits came in at an annualized rate of 467,000.

Zillow Economic Analyst Matthew Speakman said housing starts picked up momentum in April following setbacks during the past couple months.

“Builders spotted a clear runway in April, coming on the heels of a March rebound in new home sales and amid low mortgage rates and a robust labor market, and without the barriers presented by this winter's partial government shutdown and early signs of a trade war with China,” Speakman said.

“There's room in the market for more new homes, with housing inventory still low by historical standards and affordability suffering in many markets,” Speakman continued. “Market affordability for builders is a different story: their costs have risen with too few lots and workers, and material costs remain high.”

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