Housing Starts Swell, at Highest in 13 Years

 David Deem

In December, housing starts surged, escalating to a 13-year high point, according to the Commerce Department.

The Breakdown

Housing Starts: 1.61 million

+16.9% month-over-month
+40.8% year-over-year
Multifamily Starts: 536,000
Single-Family Starts: 1.06 million

Building Permits: 1.42 million

-3.9% month-over-month
+5.8% year-over-year
Multifamily Permits: 458,000
Single-Family Permits: 916,000

Completions: 1.28 million

+5.1% month-over-month
+19.6% year-over-year
Multifamily Completions: 357,000
Single-Family Completions: 912,000

What the Industry's Saying

"On a seasonally adjusted basis, housing starts jumped in December to their highest level in 13 years. Surprisingly, single-family starts increased relative to November even on an unadjusted basis—unusual at this time of year—and was driven by a rise in the South. While single-family permits are up almost 11 percent relative to last year, the level suggests that this jump in starts is unlikely to persist, and we would expect them to return back below 1 million this spring. However, the trend in activity remains quite positive, and as more units are completed, inventories will grow, and this will support a faster pace of home sales in the spring of 2020." – Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist, Mortgage Bankers Association 

"The solid housing production numbers are in line with strong builder sentiment, supported by a low supply of existing homes, low mortgage rates and a strong labor market." – Greg Ugalde, Chairman, National Association of Home Builders

"The number of for-sale homes is at its lowest level in more than a decade and December's home construction numbers are evidence that builders are doing what they can to address the shortage. Enduring headwinds in the form of regulatory hurdles, volatile materials' costs and a shortage of buildable lots were echoed in a slight pullback from November's 12-year highs, but otherwise it's clear that builders are reasonably confident that strong demand for housing will persist…It's going to take more than increased construction to completely emerge from the ongoing and historic inventory shortage, but more home-building certainly won't hurt. For now, it appears that builders are game for the challenge." – Matthew Speakman, Economist, Zillow

DRE #01266522


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