Housing Starts Drop 3.7% in April

Home Building in US Tumbles in April

New building permits were up 7.7% from the April 2017 rate. The April decline was also driven by weakness in multifamily, which experienced a 13% drop in starts relative to March.

Data for March was revised to show starts rising to a 1.336 million-unit rate instead of the previously reported 1.319 million-unit pace.

Housing activity decreased in three of the four regions as the Northeast, Midwest, and West declined 8.1%, 16.3%, and 12.0%, respectively.

"We expect housing starts to continue to gain ground through 2018, supported by positive fundamentals such as low unemployment and healthy wage increases, which are expected to offset higher mortgage rates".

Single-family home building, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, edged up 0.1 percent to a rate of 894,000 units last month.

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The report showed 163,000 homes were authorized for construction in April but not yet started, up 14% from 143,000 a year ago and indicating a steady pace of homebuilding in coming months.

Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), says his organization had anticipated "some pullback" for housing starts in April "after such a strong March report". "However, builders must manage supply-side hurdles, such as ongoing building material price increases and shortages of land and labor, to meet growing housing demand".

Permits for new single-family homes rose month over month in April from a revised annual rate of 851,000 in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 859,000.

The Trump administration in April previous year imposed anti-subsidy duties on imports of Canadian softwood lumber. Apartment construction tumbled 12.6 percent to 374,000. Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,352,000, which 1.8 percent below the revised March rate of 1,377,000 but 7.7 percent above the April 2017 rate of 1,255,000. Permits for multi-family units fell 6.3 percent to a 493,000 unit-pace. This number is more volatile than the single-family number and has moved mostly sideways since 2013. Single-family units under construction increased 1.0 percent to the highest level since June 2008.

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