For the fourth consecutive quarter, construction of attached single-family housing (townhouses) increased both in terms of market share and year-over-year total units built.
Per fourth quarter 2012 Census data of Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design, total townhouse construction increased significantly in 2012, reaching a starts total and market share last seen in 2008. Townhouse construction totaled 66,000 for the year.
Quarterly construction of townhouses rose from 13,000 starts in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 17,000 starts during the same period of 2012. Using a one-year moving average, the market share of townhouses now stands at 12.2% of all single-family starts, up from 10.5% for the final quarter of 2011.
The peak market share of the last two decades for townhouse construction was set during the first quarter of 2008, when it reached 14.6%. This high point was set after a fairly consistent increase in share since the early 1990s.
Despite the drop in market share during the Great Recession, I expect the share for townhouse construction to increase in coming years with the occasional ups and downs. The prospects for the townhouses are positive given large numbers of homebuyers looking for medium density residential neighborhoods, such as urban villages that offer walkable environments and other amenities.