Most Areas See Growth in Single-Family Starts

NAHB analysis of the Survey of Construction (SOC) shows that, nationally, there were 847,830 new single-family units started in 2017, 9% higher than the units started in 2016.

Among all of the nine Census divisions, new single-family units started in the South Atlantic, West South Central and Mountain Divisions exceeded 100k in 2017. These three divisions represent 21 states, approximately 41% of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., but the number of new single-family housing starts in these three divisions accounted for about 60% of the total new single-family housing starts in 2017.

In addition, there were 95,689 new single-family units started in the Pacific Division and 77,053 units started in the East North Central Division in 2017. The Pacific Division accounted for 11% of the total new single-family housing starts, while the East North Central Division accounted for 9%. The other four divisions, including East South Central, West North Central, Middle Atlantic and New England, accounted for the remaining 20% of the total new single-family housing starts.

Figure 2 shows the annual growth rate of new single-family housing starts by divisions in 2016 and 2017; the red line represents the national level. In 2017, nationally, new single-family housing starts rose by 9%, while each division grew at the different pace. Four out of the nine divisions grew faster than the national level of 9%. The Pacific Division led the way with a 17% increase, followed by the West North Central Division with an 11% increase, the South Atlantic Division and the Mountain Division with a 10% increase each. Meanwhile, the growth rates of the other five divisions were below the national level.

As shown in Figure 2, compared to last year, seven out of the nine divisions, including West North Central, South Atlantic, Mountain, New England, Middle Atlantic, East North Central and East South Central, experienced a deceleration in growth in 2017. Among them, the East South Central Division experienced the largest deceleration with a decline of 3% in 2017. Meanwhile, the Pacific Division and the West South Central Division have experienced much more rapid growth in 2017. In 2016, the Pacific Division grew by 6% and the West South Central Division decreased by 2%; in 2017, they rose by 17% and 8%, respectively.

According to NAHB analysis of the SOC data, national new single-family housing starts reached 63% of the pre-recession normal (the average of housing starts between 2000 and 2003) in 2017.

Relative to the average annual number of housing starts between 2000 and 2003, the nine divisions ranged between 46% and 93% of that level in 2017. The West South Central Division, at 93%, is closest to recovering and the East North Central Division is furthest away, at 46%. Moreover, new single-family housing starts in the East South Central Division dropped to 67% of the pre-recession normal in 2017, from the 69% of the pre-recession normal in 2016. The decline in single-family starts across the East South Central Division moved it further away from “normality”. All nine divisions are off their recession-era lows relative to the average activity between 2000 and 2003, but no division has recovered completely.



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