Housing starts fell slightly in January, while new permits jumped to a nearly 13-year high, reflecting a sustained strong housing market in the United States.
Building permits in January increased by 9.2 percent above the revised December rate of 1,420,000 – and was 17.9 percent above the January 2019 rate, according to a monthly report released by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1,567,000 – or 3.6 percent below the revised December rate but still 21.4 percent above the January 2019 rate.
“The latest month’s decline in housing starts is nothing to be concerned about,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. “What is important is the trend line, which is clearly on an upward path. Higher permit issuances are also a positive indicator for ever greater production in the months ahead.”
Robert Dietz, the chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, tweeted: “Solid start for home construction in 2020. Three-month moving average of single-family starts is at a post recession high and builder confidence strong.”
Meanwhile, the report found housing completions in January were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1,280,000 – 3.3 percent below the revised December number and 1.5 percent above January 2019.
That number could mean houses could be relatively hard to find for homebuyers in the coming months.
“More construction will mean more housing inventor for consumers in the later months of this year,” Yun said. “Spring months could still be quite tough for buyers, since it takes time to convert housing starts into actual housing completions.”