Housing Starts Show Improvement In February
March 17, 2009
owned housing starts in February were 22.2 percent above the revised January
estimate of 477,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Single-family housing
starts were at a rate of 1.1 percent above the January figure - about 357,000.
“While welcome news,
this gain only reflects a modest rebound from January, which was the worst
month in history for new-home production,” said National Association of Home
Builders Chief Economist David Crowe. “The
majority of the gain was due to characteristic volatility on the multifamily
Regionally, the only
area of the country to post a lower rate of total housing starts for February
was the West, with a 24.6 percent decline. The Northeast posted the largest
gain, of 88.6 percent, reflecting a rebound from a nearly equal decline in the
previous month. Meanwhile, the Midwest posted a 58.5 percent gain following a
deep plunge in January, and the South posted a 30.2 percent gain. January-February
averages were well below the monthly averages for the final quarter of 2008 in
all regions of the country.
number of building permits pulled in February for single-family homes was 11
percent about January’s figure of 336,000; permits for all privately owned
housing units rose 3 percent to a rate of 547,000. Authorizations of units in
buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 156,000 in February.
Building permits can be
an indicator of future building activity.
“Builders did pull a
larger volume of single-family permits in February, suggesting a glimmer of
hope for the prime home buying season, which is near at hand,” said NAHB
Chairman Joe Robson, a home builder from Tulsa,
Okla. “That said, we realize there’s a need to be extremely cautious in terms
of new building activity going forward, because there’s still quite a lot of
inventory out there that needs to be absorbed as foreclosures continue to flood
the market in many areas.”
By region, building
permits recorded a 27.6 percent gain in the Northeast, no change in the
Midwest, a nearly 6 percent improvement in the South, and a 13.6 percent
decline in the West in February.