In March, the (seasonally adjusted) annual rate of starts in buildings with five or more apartments was 178,000, according to the latest release from the Census Bureau’s Manufacturing and Construction Division.
This is a 20 percent decrease from the February starts rate (which was revised downward slightly) but is nearly 9% higher than the March 2011 rate. And the long-run trend continues to be positive. The three-month moving average of 5+ unit starts remains near post-recession highs.
The rate at which new five-plus permits were issued registered a strong 24 percent increase in March, to 262,000, marking the fifth consecutive month that the five-plus permit rate has been above 200,000. Improvement in the permit rate since 2010 suggests that multifamily production will remain relatively healthy going forward.
At the other end of the production pipeline, the rate of five-plus completions increased 4 percent in March, to 146,000. As five-plus starts continue to outpace completions, the number of five-plus units under construction has been steadily climbing and has now been above 190,000 units for the last three months, a positive sign for the multifamily sector.