Single-Family Housing Starts Increase In August

Single-family housing starts increased in August at its highest rate since February, the month before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States, according to a report released Thursday by the federal government.

Overall, housing production fell 5.1 percent due to a large decrease in starts on condos and apartment buildings, the report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department.

Single-family starts increased 4.1 percent to 1.02 million. Multifamily starts plummeted 22.7 percent to 395,000.

“Consistent with surging builder confidence, single-family starts rose in August to meet rising buyer traffic,” said Chuck Fowke, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a custom home builder from Tampa, Fla. “Builders continue to face concerns in terms of rising lumber prices and supply chain shortages of other building materials.”

On a regional and year-to-date basis (January through August of 2020 compared to that same time frame a year ago), combined single-family and multifamily starts are 13.6 percent higher in the Midwest, 5.4 percent higher in the South, 3.8 percent higher in the West and 4.5 percent lower in the Northeast.

“Total housing starts were down in August on a decline for multifamily construction, with multifamily 5+ unit permits now down 8.3 percent on a year-to-date basis,” NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said. “But low interest rates and solid demand are spurring single-family construction growth, which makes up the bulk of the housing market. Single-family permits continue to rise as well and are now up almost 7 percent on a year-to-date basis.”