In April, the (seasonally adjusted) annual rate of starts in buildings with five or more apartments increased by 4 percent from the revised figure for March, to 217,000. However, the biggest multifamily news in the latest release from the Census Bureau’s Manufacturing and Construction Division lies in the revisions to previous numbers. The five-plus starts rate for February was revised upward by 8 percent, and the rate for March was revised upward by 17 percent, so multifamily production over the early part of 2012 is somewhat stronger than we thought it was only a month ago. After the revisions, the Census series shows a five-plus starts rate that has stayed above 200,000 for three consecutive months, now—the first time this has happened since multifamily production rates crashed in late 2008.
Meanwhile, the rate at which new five-plus permits were issued in April declined by 23 percent from the revised figure for March, to 217,000. The March permit number was revised upward by 7 percent, but the decline in April nevertheless suggests a drag on future five-plus starts over the near term.
Taking a longer perspective, five-plus permits and starts in April were both up strongly on a year over year basis—by 40 and 75 percent, respectively. In turn, the April 2011 numbers were up from the numbers for April 2010, which were up from the numbers for April 2009—illustrating just how far the market had fallen back then.