USA housing starts decreased last month for the fifth time in six months, as builders felt the brunt of construction delays as well as labor and material shortages caused by hurricanes in Florida and Texas.
Housing starts ran at an annual pace of 1.13 million, down 4.7 percent from the August estimate, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,215,000. Single-family housing completions were at a rate of 781,000, also representing an increase.
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Housing-starts data are volatile from month to month and can be subject to large revisions. Permitting in the West was down 9 percent over the month and was also down almost a percentage point over the last year's pace. Single-family housing starts in September were at a rate of 829,000; this is 4.6% (±8.5%)* below the revised August figure of 869,000. In the South, starts were down 9.3 percent over the month. "Nationwide single-family permits are up this month, and year-to-date single-family starts are 9.1 percent ahead of their level over the same period last year-two indicators that this sector continues to improve".
"Over the next few months I wouldn't expect large declines but movement along that new normal", he said.
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"Home prices have been rising too fast in the West, and several metro areas are in dire need of new home construction", Yun said. Even as single-family home construction begins to pick up, multifamily construction is declining.
Despite the months-long decline in housing starts, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes increased four points to a level of 68 in October, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).
"When you actually look into the numbers a bit closer it is not all doom and gloom; [it is] mostly because of a fall in multifamily homes", said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia.
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"We are seeing the hurricanes take a toll on single-family production, but builder confidence is strong and production should bounce back as the recovery process gets underway", said Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in a statement. The drop was entirely in apartments as single-family starts were up.