Total housing starts increased in January, led by strong gains for multifamily development. Starts jumped 9.7% to a 1.33 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, according to the joint data release from the Census Bureau and HUD.
The pace of single-family starts expanded in January, rising 3.7% to an 877,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate. The three-month moving average for single-family starts remained near a post-recession high rate of construction (890,000). The gains for single-family starts match ongoing healthy levels of the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, now registering a score of 72. Single-family permits posted a slight decline of 1.7% in January, but that decline was off a strong December permitting rate.
Multifamily starts were up almost 24% to a noticeably strong seasonally adjusted annual rate of 449,000 in January. Multifamily permits also posted a gain in January, with permitting rising 27%. Multifamily data tends to be volatile in the month-to-month data.
With respect to housing’s economic impact, 55% of homes under construction in December were multifamily (621,000). With production declines in 2017, the current count of multifamily units under construction is just slightly lower than a year ago (621,000). In January, there were 499,000 single-family units under construction, a gain of almost 12% from this time in 2017.