Single-Family Housing Starts Rise 4.4 Percent


WASHINGTON – Nationwide housing starts edged up 0.3 percent to a
seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units in September, due
entirely to a 4.4 percent gain in the single-family sector, according
to U.S. Commerce Department
figures released today.

“Builders are cautiously responding to the small improvement they are
seeing in interest among potential home buyers,” noted Bob Jones,
chairman of the National
Association of Home Builders

and a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “However, as consumer
demand for new homes rises, a major limiting factor for a housing
recovery continues to be builders’ inability to access credit for new

“Today’s numbers are in line with our latest builder surveys, which
indicate that stability is slowly returning to the new-homes market
following the declines we saw upon expiration of the home buyer tax
credits and the slowing of economic growth this summer,” added NAHB
Chief Economist David Crowe. “Builders are receiving more inquiries
from potential customers and are carefully responding to renewed
consumer interest, although their limited access to credit for new
housing production is definitely hampering this process.”

All of the increase in housing production in September was due to
improvement on the single-family side, which posted a 4.4 percent gain
to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 452,000 units – the strongest
level since May of this year. Multifamily starts, which tend to exhibit
greater volatility on a month-to-month basis, recorded a 9.7 percent
decline to a 158,000-unit rate following a big increase in August.

On a regional basis, starts activity was mixed, with two regions
posting gains and two posting declines for September. The Northeast and
South registered gains of 2.9 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively,
while the Midwest and West registered declines of 8.2 percent and 3.6
percent, respectively.

Permit issuance, which can be an indicator of future building activity,
declined 5.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000
units in September. This dip was due entirely to a 20.2 percent decline
to a 134,000-unit rate on the more volatile multifamily side, while
single-family permits remained virtually unchanged, edging up 0.5
percent to a 405,000-unit rate.

Regionally, permits fell across the board in September, with the
Northeast posting a 1.5 percent decline, the Midwest a 4.3 percent
decline, the South a 4.7 percent decline, and the West a 10.6 percent

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