April Housing Starts: All-Time Record Housing Units Under Construction
Housing Starts Decreased to 1.724 million Annual Rate in April
From the Census Bureau: Permits, Starts and Completions
Privately‐owned housing starts in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,724,000. This is 0.2 percent below the revised March estimate of 1,728,000, but is 14.6 percent above the April 2021 rate of 1,505,000. Single‐family housing starts in April were at a rate of 1,100,000; this is 7.3 percent below the revised March figure of 1,187,000. The April rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 612,000.
Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,819,000. This is 3.2 percent below the revised March rate of 1,879,000, but is 3.1 percent above the April 2021 rate of 1,765,000. Single‐ family authorizations in April were at a rate of 1,110,000; this is 4.6 percent below the revised March figure of 1,163,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 656,000 in April.
The first graph shows single and multi-family housing starts since 2000 (including housing bubble).
Multi-family starts (blue, 2+ units) increased in April compared to March. Multi-family starts were up 40.5% year-over-year in April. Single-family starts (red) decreased in April and were up 3.7% year-over-year.
The second graph shows single and multi-family starts since 1968.
The second graph shows the huge collapse following the housing bubble, and then the eventual recovery (but still not historically high).
Total housing starts in April were below expectations, and starts in February and March, were revised down, combined.
The third graph shows the month-to-month comparison for total starts between 2021 (blue) and 2022 (red).
Total starts were up 14.6% in April compared to April 2021. Total starts, year-to-date, are up 10.4% compared to the same period in 2021.
The fourth graph shows housing starts under construction, Seasonally Adjusted (SA).
Red is single family units. Currently there are 815 thousand single family units under construction (SA). This is the highest level since November 2006.
For single family, many of these homes are already sold (Census counts sales when contract is signed). The reason there are so many homes is probably due to construction delays. Since many of these are already sold, it is unlikely this is “overbuilding”, or that this will significantly impact prices (although the buyers will be moving out of their current home or apartment once these homes are completed).
Blue is for 2+ units. Currently there are 826 thousand multi-family units under construction. This is the highest level since May 1974! For multi-family, construction delays are probably also a factor. The completion of these units should help with rent pressure.
Combined, there are a record 1.641 million units under construction. This eclipses the previous record of 1.628 million units that were under construction (mostly apartments in 1973 for the baby boom generation).
Comparing Starts and Completions
Below is a graph comparing multi-family starts and completions. Since it usually takes over a year on average to complete a multi-family project, there is a lag between multi-family starts and completions. Completions are important because that is new supply added to the market and starts are important because that is future new supply (units under construction is also important for employment).
These graphs use a 12-month rolling total for NSA starts and completions.
The blue line is for multifamily starts and the red line is for multifamily completions. Starts have picked up, but completions (red) have turned down - due to the construction delays.
The last graph shows single family starts and completions. It usually only takes about 6 months between starting a single-family home and completion - so the lines are much closer than for multi-family. The blue line is for single family starts and the red line is for single family completions.
The recent gap between starts and completions is due to the construction delays.
Housing starts in April were below consensus expectations and starts for the previous months were revised down.
There are a record number of housing units under construction due to construction delay (eclipsing the previous record in 1973 when a huge number of apartments were being built for the baby boom generation).
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