WASHINGTON - Multi-family housing starts declined 24.1% to 277,000 units in January, putting at least a momentary damper on the recovery of the new housing market.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, January housing starts slipped 8.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000 units. On a brighter note, the issuance of permits for new home construction increased 1.8% to 925,000 units - the quickest pace since mid-2008.
David Crowe, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders, said, "Today's report is quite positive in that it shows continued upward movement in single-family housing production and permitting activity for both single- and multifamily units. Meanwhile, the decline in multifamily starts reflects an adjustment from an unsustainably large gain in December, and is consistent with the up-and-down swings that are often associated with that sector."
January's new home construction skid was confined to the Midwest, down 50%; and the Northeast, down 35.3%. New housing construction gains were recorded in the West, up 16.7%; and the South, up 4.1%.