US Housing Starts: Oct 2020

The latest housing starts report by the US Commerce Department, released Wednesday, said new home building in the US surged up by +5% to an annual rate of 1.530 million in October 2020 after soaring by +6.3% to an upwardly revised rate of 1.459 million in September.


US housing starts continue to defy expectations in October 2020

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  • As in previous months, the increase was driven by single-family starts, which rose by +6.4% to 1.18 million. By contrast, starts in the more volatile multi-family segment held flat at 351k for the second straight month. 
  • Overall, building permits were flat in October, at a 13-1/2-year high, after increasing by +5% the month prior. However, it is usual for home building and construction to slow down as the winter season comes on across North America.
  • Most important for the softwood lumber industry, single-family permits continued their seven-month streak of advances, rising by a modest +0.6%. This was offset by a drop in multifamily permits, down by -1.6%, the third consecutive month of decline.
  • Regionally, starts advanced in all major Census regions but the Northeast, where they were down -39%. The gains were largest in the Midwest, +13%, followed by the West, +4.2%, and the South, +3.3%. 
  • The densely populated South region accounted for 56.1% of new homebuilding last month.     

Compared to the same month a year ago, US housing starts in October 2020 were up by +14%, while building permits were up by +3%.

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