Housing starts down, permits up
April 17, 2012
The picture for residential construction was mixed in March as housing starts were down sharply while permits authorized for future construction rose, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Privately-owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000 — 5.8% below the revised February estimate by 10.3% above the March 2011 rate. Meanwhile, privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 747,000 — 4.5% above February and 30.1% above March 2011.
Permits for units in buildings with five or more units rose 24.2% from February while permits for single-family homes actually dropped 3.5%. Compared to March 2011, single-family home permits were up 17.9% while units in buildings with five or more units were up 57.8%. Total permits were up month-to-month in all regions except the Northeast but were up strongly year-over-year in all regions.
Housing starts for units in buildings with five or more units dropped 19.8% from February while starts of single-family homes fell only 0.2%. Compared to March 2011, single-family home permits were up 10.5% while units in buildings with five or more units were up 8.5%. Total housing starts were up sharply month-to-month in the Northeast, up slightly in the Midwest, flat in the West and down sharply in the South. Year over year, housing starts were up by double-digit percentages except in the South, where they were down 0.9%.
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