According to NAHB analysis of the most recent Census data of Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design, townhouse construction starts continued to grow on a year-over-year basis, although that growth rate has slowed recently.
Over the four quarter period ending with the first quarter of 2017, townhouse starts totaled 98,000, a more than 4% gain over the prior year total. For the start of 2017, single-family attached starts totaled 23,000. Until the last few quarters, townhouse construction had been outpacing the growth rates of overall single-family starts.
Using a one-year moving average, the market share of new townhouses stands at 12.4% of all single-family starts for the final quarter of 2016, near the cycle high.
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% of total single-family construction. This high point was set after a fairly consistent increase in growth beginning in the early 1990s.
Despite the drop in market share during the Great Recession, townhouse construction is expected to increase in coming years – with occasional ups and downs.
The long-run prospects for townhouse construction are positive given large numbers of homebuyers looking for medium density residential neighborhoods, such as urban villages that offer walkable environments and other amenities.