Housing Starts Slid Again In December, But Builders Are Optimistic

Housing construction slid again in December to its lowest point since July, but an increase in single-family starts may signal improvement to come. Residential starts fell 1.4% from November to an annualized rate of 1.38 million, down 21.8% from the same time last year, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the fourth consecutive decline for these data. It was driven largely by a dip in multifamily construction, which is volatile month to month. The picture for all of 2022 was fairly bleak. In the entire year, only 1 million homes were started, down 10.6% from 2021 and the largest drop since 2009. Permits for new homes fell 1.6% to a rate of 1.33 million. Single-family permits…

Starts, Permits Drop For Third Month Straight

Housing construction slid again in November as inflationary pressure and high rates kept demand down. Residential starts fell 0.5% from October to an annualized rate of 1.43 million, down 16.4% from the same time last year, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the third consecutive decline for these data. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal predicted starts would fall to 1.4 million from October’s initial estimate of 1.43 million. Single-family starts dropped 4.1% month-over-month to an annualized rate of 828,000. This is their lowest level since May 2020. Permits for new homes fell 11.2% to a rate of 1.34 million. Single-family permits tanked by 7.1% to their slowest pace since 2020. Permits offer an indication…

Housing Starts Down As Buyers, Builders Pull Back

Housing construction fell sharply in October, another miss for the rapidly constricting housing market. Starts for both single- and multi-family units dropped by 4.2% month-over-month to an annualized rate of 1.425 million units, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to register a 1.41 million rate after seasonal adjustment. Single-family starts fell by 6.1% from September, and single-family completions were down 8.3%. Building permits dipped 2.4%, an indicator of builders’ pessimism moving into winter, the slowest season for real estate. Permits offer an indication of how many homes will be built in the coming months. Housing is desperately needed, especially single-family units.  Some experts say it could take a decade to…

New Home Apps Dropped In September, Putting Pressure On Worried Builders

New home mortgage applications dropped sharply in September as buyers backed away from decades-high interest rates. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Builder Application Survey for September 2022 found that applications for new home purchases fell 13.2% YOY and 7% from August. Based on that data, MBA predicts that new single-family home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted rate of 637,000 in September. “New home purchase activity declined in September as prospective homebuyers pulled back in response to higher mortgage rates, increased concern about an impending recession, and a broader slowdown in home-price growth,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased almost a full percentage point in the last month, greatly reducing…

Housing Starts Beat Expectations In August

Housing starts surprised the industry with a boost in August, though building permits lagged at their slowest pace the last two years. Starts increased 12.2% month-over-month to an annualized rate of 1.575 million units in August, exceeding market expectations of 1.445 million. This is the largest jump since March last year. But while the data may be positive, housing still faces pressure from inflated material costs and rising interest rates. Single-family starts increased by only 3.4%. The unexpected jump was propelled by a 28.6% surge in demand for buildings with five or more units, suggesting builders are betting on the hot rental market to stay. That prospect doesn’t bode well for the homebuilders. Builder sentiment dropped three points in September,…

Housing Starts Plummeted In July

Homebuilding plummeted in July as both homebuyers and sellers continue to lose confidence in the market. Housing starts fell by a shocking 9.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.446 million units last month, according to new data released by the Commerce Department.  This is their lowest rate since February 2021 and significantly below market expectations of 1.53 million. Last month’s revised data put starts at a rate of 1.599 million units. A drop this big suggests the housing market still has room to contract in the third quarter of this year. Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics called the data “terrible” in a tweet Tuesday. Single-family starts fell 10.1%, their lowest in two years, while starts for units in…

June Home Purchase Apps Down 12% YOY

New home purchase applications fell 12% YOY in June, and were down 10% from May, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Builder Application Survey. New single-family home sales ran at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 620,000 units in June, down 14.7% from May’s pace of 727,000 units. The unadjusted rate was estimated to be 57,000 home sales, down 6.6% from 61,000 in May. New home sales are estimated using mortgage application information and assumptions regarding market coverage and other factors. “Higher mortgage rates and heightened economic uncertainty cooled borrower demand in June, leading to new-home purchase applications declining to the lowest level since April 2020,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting.  “Additionally, new…

Lumber Prices Are Toppling, But Will Home Prices Come Down With Them?

By CHUCK GREEN With lumber prices toppling, it might be the ideal time to knock on wood. Gently, though. It just might be a bit fragile at the moment. Year to date, prices have sagged around 50%, according to 7seasgroupusa.com. They recently sunk to their lowest point in nine months as they traded under the $600-per-thousand-board-feet mark. Conversely, a year ago, prices, fueled by pent-up demand for construction and home upgrades in the aftermath of COVID on the heels of a frenzy of speculation, reached $1,733, which was unprecedented.But as the housing market backed down in light of escalating interest rates, lumber prices have borne the brunt, receding more than 60% from their March highs, according to Business Insider. In May,…

Builder Confidence Drops, Signaling Trouble For The Housing Market

Builder confidence dropped two points in June to its lowest level since June 2020, according to the National Association of Home Builders(NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI asks builders for their opinions on current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months, as well as rate their traffic of prospective buyers. Any number under 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as worse than better. The HMI posted a reading of 67 for the month of June. It is the sixth consecutive month of decline for the index. NAHB’s press release called it a “troubling sign for the housing market.” “Six consecutive monthly declines for the HMI is a clear sign of a slowing housing…

Builder Profits Fell In 2020, The First Drop Since 2008

Builder gross profit margins fell to 18.2% in 2020, while net profits slipped to 7%, according to NAHB Builders’ Cost of Doing Business Study. This is the first profit margin decline since 2008. The study surveyed single-family builders across the U.S. It found that builders averaged $13.7 million in revenue for the fiscal year of 2020, of which $11.2 million (81.8%) was spent on costs of sales, such as land costs and construction costs. An additional $1.5 million (11.2%) was spent on operating expenses, such as marketing, administrative expenses, and owner’s compensation.  The study notes that shutdowns related to Covid-19 played a part in the results, as well as the need to navigate work-from-home models, supply-chain disruptions, and labor shortages.…