Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Housing starts fall flat in April

Housing starts fall flat in April

Single family starts (894,000 SAAR) were up 0.1% from March while the multifamily sector (393,000) declined 11.3%. On a regional level, the HMI scores in the West and Northeast held steady at 76 and 55, respectively, as the HMI scores in the South and Midwest each both dropped one point to respective levels of 72 and 65.

The seasonally adjusted rate of new building permits slipped to 1.352 million, down 1.8% from the upwardly revised February rate of 1.377 million but 7.7% higher than the April 2017 rate.

Figures released this morning showed USA home building tumbled in April and permits fell, suggesting the housing market continued to tread water amid shortages of land and skilled labour.

Building permits were also down 1.8 percent in April at 1.3 million units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts decreasing to a pace of 1.310 million units last month and permits declining to a 1.350 million-unit rate.

A hoped-for spring surge in homebuilding to relieve a worsening national housing shortage didn't materialize in April, U.S. Census Bureau data suggests.

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"Tight housing inventory, employment gains and demographic tailwinds should continue to boost demand for newly-built single-family homes", said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. The pace of homebuilding is still below its long-run average of about 1.5 million a year, which has led to a shortage of homes on the market.

However, experts believe that despite the uptick in April, starts for single-family homes are stagnating.

The Trump administration in April a year ago imposed anti-subsidy duties on imports of Canadian softwood lumber.

Multifamily starts for buildings with five or more units increased by 7.2% year over year in April and fell by 12.6% compared with March.

New-home construction declined in April as fewer starts of apartment projects outweighed a modest improvement in single-family structures, government figures showed Wednesday. Single-family permits ticked up 0.9 percent to 859,000 while multifamily permits fell 6.3 percent to 493,000 after a 20.4 percent jump in March. This number is more volatile than the single-family number and has moved mostly sideways since 2013.

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