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October Housing Starts: Record Number of Housing Units Under Construction
Housing Starts Decreased to 1.425 million Annual Rate in October
From the Census Bureau: Permits, Starts and Completions
Privately‐owned housing starts in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,425,000. This is 4.2 percent below the revised September estimate of 1,488,000 and is 8.8 percent below the October 2021 rate of 1,563,000. Single‐family housing starts in October were at a rate of 855,000; this is 6.1 percent below the revised September figure of 911,000. The October rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 556,000.
Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,526,000. This is 2.4 percent below the revised September rate of 1,564,000 and is 10.1 percent below the October 2021 rate of 1,698,000. Single‐family authorizations in October were at a rate of 839,000; this is 3.6 percent below the revised September figure of 870,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 633,000 in October.
The first graph shows single and multi-family housing starts since 2000 (including housing bubble).
Multi-family starts (blue, 2+ units) decreased in October compared to September. Multi-family starts were up 17.8% year-over-year in October. Single-family starts (red) decreased in October and were down 20.8% year-over-year.
Note that the recent weakness has been in single family starts (red).
The second graph shows single and multi-family starts since 1968.
Total housing starts in October were above expectations, however, starts in August and September were revised down slightly, combined.
The third graph shows the month-to-month comparison for total starts between 2021 (blue) and 2022 (red).
Total starts were down 8.8% in October compared to October 2021. Total starts, year-to-date, are up 0.2% compared to the same period in 2021. However, starts have been down year-over-year for six consecutive months, and the comparisons will be very difficult in November and December (starts were strong at the end of 2021). Housing starts will end the year down compared to 2021.
Record Number of Housing Units Under Construction
The fourth graph shows housing starts under construction, Seasonally Adjusted (SA).
Red is single family units. Currently there are 794 thousand single family units (red) under construction (SA). This is below the previous six months, and 36 thousand below the recent peak in April and May. Single family units under construction have peaked since single family starts are now declining. The reason there are so many homes under construction is probably due to supply constraints.
Blue is for 2+ units. Currently there are 928 thousand multi-family units under construction. This is the highest level since December 1973! For multi-family, construction delays are probably also a factor. The completion of these units should help with rent pressure.
Combined, there are 1.722 million units under construction. This is the all-time record number of units under construction.
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. Builders are still starting more multifamily units than they are completing. Multifamily completions (red) should pick up soon.
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 decreasing since builders are now starting fewer single-family units - and completions (red) are increasing.
Total housing starts in October were above expectations, however, starts in August and September were revised down slightly, combined. The recent weakness has been for single family starts.
Multi-family starts will likely slow soon due to a combination of less rent growth and higher interest rates. We are already seeing a slowdown in design for multi-family.
There are a record number of total housing units under construction due to construction delays, but the number of single-family housing units under construction is now declining.
Homebuilders are reporting that demand is slowing, yet a large number of housing units will be delivered over the next year (with all these units under construction). Yesterday, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that builder confidence declined further in November, and we should expect starts to decline further in coming months.
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