April Housing Starts Post Modest Year-Over-Year Gain

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 16, 2018

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.

A new home under construction is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S. February 2, 2018.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million in April, lowest since December.

The revision to the March rate added 17,000 new housing starts to the previously reported total.

The report said building permits also tumbled by 1.8% to an annual rate of 1.352 million in April after surging up by 4.1% to an upwardly revised 1.377 million in March. The increase reflects a month-over-month decline in all regions except the South, where starts rose by 17.2%.

Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, had been expected to edge down to 1.350 million from the 1.354 million originally reported for the previous month.

We saw 894,000 single-family housing starts in April, a slight step up from an upwardly revised March figure.

USA financial markets were little moved by the data. Single-family homebuilding has lost momentum since setting a 948,000-unit pace last November, which was the strongest in more than 10 years. Residential construction has been hamstrung by rising prices for building materials and shortages of land and skilled workers.

Multi-family permits slumped by 6.3% to a rate of 493,000 in April after soaring by 20.4% to 526,000 in March.

Last month, permits for the construction of single-family homes rose 0.9 percent to a rate of 859,000 units in April.

The number of single-family units completed fell 4.0 percent in April.

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