NAHB: Housing starts weaken in July as market slowdown continues
August 17, 2022 | 10:09 am CDT
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WASHINGTON -- A sharp decline in single-family home construction is another indicator that the housing slowdown is showing no signs of abating, as rising construction costs, elevated mortgage rates, and supply chain disruptions continue to act as a drag on the market.

Overall housing starts fell 9.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.45 million units in July, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The July reading of 1.45 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts decreased 10.1% to a 916,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate and are down 2.1% on a year-to-date basis. This is the lowest reading for single-family home building since June 2020. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, decreased 8.6% to an annualized 530,000 pace.

“The decline in single-family starts is reflected in our latest builder surveys, as housing demand continues to weaken on higher interest rates while on the supply side builders continue to grapple with higher construction costs,” said Jerry Konter, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Savannah, Ga. “Builders are reporting weakening traffic as housing affordability declines.”

“A housing recession is underway with builder sentiment falling for eight consecutive months while the pace of single-family home building has declined for the last five months,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, multifamily construction remains very strong given the solid demand for rental housing. The number of multifamily 5+ units currently under construction is up 24.8% year-over-year.”

On a regional and year-to-date basis, combined single-family and multifamily starts are 10.7% higher in the Northeast, 0.4% lower in the Midwest, 6.5% higher in the South, and 2.2% lower in the West.

Overall permits decreased 1.3% to a 1.67 million unit annualized rate in July. Single-family permits decreased 4.3% to a 928,000 unit rate and are down 5.9% on a year-to-date basis. Multifamily permits increased 2.8% to an annualized 746,000 pace.

Looking at regional permit data on a year-to-date basis, permits are 1.9% lower in the Northeast, 1.9% higher in the Midwest, 2.6% higher in the South, and 0.2% higher in the West.

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Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).