Despite weakness for single-family construction in 2023, townhouse construction recorded the best quarter for starts in 16 years.
According to NAHB analysis of the most recent Census data of Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design, during the third quarter of 2023, single-family attached starts totaled 43,000, which is 16% higher than the third quarter of 2022. This represents an acceleration over the last four quarters, during which townhouse construction starts totaled a solid 148,000 homes, which is 2% lower than the prior four-quarter period (151,000).
Using a one-year moving average, the market share of newly-built townhouses stood at 16.5% of all single-family starts for the third quarter. With the recent gains, the four-quarter moving average market share is the highest since 1985.
Prior to the current cycle, the peak market share of the last two decades for townhouse construction was set during the first quarter of 2008, when the percentage reached 14.6%, on a one-year moving average basis. This high point was set after a fairly consistent increase in the share beginning in the early 1990s.
The long-run prospects for townhouse construction remain positive given growing numbers of homebuyers looking for medium-density residential neighborhoods, such as urban villages that offer walkable environments and other amenities.