Construction Numbers Don’t Mirror Growing Builder Optimism
February 16 2024
Even though the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported the third consecutive increase in its measure of home builder confidence, actual residential construction activity fell. The residential construction report for January shows both the rate of permitting and housing starts declined from the previous month, the second straight loss for starts. The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development said construction began on residential properties at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.331 million units. This was down 14.8 percent from the December rate of 1.562 million. The December rate was, however, a substantial upgrade from the 1.460 million units originally reported. On a year-over-year basis, starts were almost flat, with a decline of 0.7 percent. Single-family starts fell 4.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.004 million units but that was an improvement of 22.0 percent from the prior January. Multifamily starts, at 314,000 units, were down 35.8 percent from December and 37.9 percent on an annual basis. On an unadjusted basis, the report says there were 93,700 units started during the month, 68,700 of them single-family houses. The December numbers were 108,800 and 72,300, respectively. The setback for permitting was more modest. Total authorizations were at an annual rate of 1.470 million, a 1.5 percent dip from 1.493 million in December and an increase of 8.6 percent for the year. The 1.015-million-unit rate for single-family houses marked a 1.6 percent gain for the month and 35.7 percent year-over-year. The permitting rate for multifamily units dropped 9.0 percent and 26.6 percent.