After a strong posting in February, U.S. housing starts dropped 6.8% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.22 million units, according to the latest report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). However, new housing production remains strong in the first quarter of 2017 despite the decrease and is still 8.1% higher than this same time last year.
March single-family production dropped 6.2% to an annual rate of 821,000 units while multifamily starts fell 7.9% to an annual pace of 394,000.
Total housing starts regionally across the nation were down except in the Northeast which saw an increase of 12.9%. In the South, they dropped 2.9%, 16% in the West and 16.2% in the Midwest.
Housing permits increased 3.6% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.26 million units. Multifamily permits climbed 13.8% to 437,000 units while single-family permits were slightly down by 1.1% to 823,000.
The West saw the largest gains in permit issuance with a 16.7% increase, followed by the Northeast with 15.5% jump and 6% in the South. The Midwest saw permits plunge 22% in March.
“Today’s numbers are aligned with our builder confidence metric, which contracted slightly this month but is on solid footing overall,” said Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.
“The three-month moving average for single-family starts has reached a post-recession high, which shows that this sector is continuing to firm,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “We can expect further gains in single-family production throughout the year, while multifamily starts should level off.”
The NAHB report is based on newly released data from HUD and the Commerce Department