Total housing starts declined in May due to a 21.3% drop in multifamily construction. The annualized rate of starts for housing units in properties with five or more units fell from 236,000 to 179,000 in May.
However, the starts rate for multifamily units typically displays a great deal of volatility. Under a three-month moving average, the five-plus starts rate fell from 228,000 in April to 208,000 in May.
Despite the decline, May represents the third consecutive month for which the three-month moving average of five-plus housing starts has been above a 200,000 rate. NAHB is forecasting that this level of multifamily construction will be maintained throughout 2012.