US Housing Starts: March 2019

US new-home construction unexpectedly fell in March, said the US Commerce Department Friday, decelerating to the slowest pace since May 2017 and suggesting builders remain wary even as lower mortgage rates and steady wage gains offer support to consumers.

For housing starts, this was the fifth negative Year-over-Year reading in a row (with March’s result being the worst, at -14%), something that has not occurred since 2009, while its 3-month moving average sank to -9% Year-over-Year. — Forbes

Read our next release on this subject: US Home Sales, House Prices: March 2019.

According to a estimates from the US Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department, single-family starts continued to show weakness in March, despite the recent stabilization in the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). After downward revisions made to the February data, single-family starts were down -0.4% to a 785,000 seasonally adjusted annual pace in March, the lowest such rate since September 2016. On a year-to-date basis, single-family construction is -5.3% lower than 1Q 2018.

Single-family starts fell -0.4% to 781,000, the slowest pace since September 2016, while permits decreased -1.1% to 808,000, the lowest since August 2017. Multifamily starts were unchanged from February to March at a 354,000 annual rate.
However, comparing 1Q 2019 to the first quarter of 2018 shows a 19% decline for 5+ unit production.

Permits fell -2.7%. Three of four regions posted declines, led by a 17.6% drop in the Midwest. Starts in the West rose 31.4%. About 197,000 homes were authorized but not yet started, the same level as the prior two months and a signal of steady supply for the months ahead.