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June 25, 2012: Housing Continues Rebound as Single-Family Starts Rise 3.2 Percent in May

June 25, 2012
WASHINGTON — Single-family housing production increased for a third consecutive month and builders pulled more permits for both single- and multifamily construction in May, according to the latest figures released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Census Bureau. The data reveals that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of single-family housing starts rose 3.2 percent to 516,000 units, which is the best pace since December 2011.

This report is “a good sign that builders are cautiously moving to replenish their depleted inventories of single-family homes in response to increasing buyer demand,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “In certain housing markets across the country, the momentum toward recovery is gradually building, though tough credit conditions and inaccurate appraisal values continue to weigh down that progress.”

“The latest data provides evidence of the kind of slow but steady growth that we expect to see in housing production through the end of the year, and shows that housing continues to regain strength regardless of some weakening in other parts of the economy,” said David Crowe, NAHB chief economist. “Particularly encouraging are the gains in permit issuance posted in both the single-family and multifamily sectors in May, which are indicative of builders’ intentions to start new projects in the coming months.”

While overall housing starts posted a 4.8 percent decline to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000 units in May, all of the decrease was on the volatile multifamily side. Single-family starts rose 3.2 percent to 516,000 units as multifamily starts declined 21.3 percent to 192,000 units.

Regionally, dips on the multifamily side drove down combined housing starts in all but the West, which registered a 14.4 percent gain. The Northeast, Midwest, and South posted declines in total housing starts of 20.3 percent, 13.3 percent, and 6.1 percent, respectively.

However, strong gains in new permitting activity for both single-family and multifamily homes drove the combined permitting number for May up 7.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 780,000 units — the strongest pace since September 2008. Single-family permits were up 4 percent to 494,000 units (best pace since March 2010) while multifamily permits gained 15.3 percent to 286,000 units.

Three out of four regions posted gains in combined permit activity in May. The Midwest, South, and West saw gains of 6.1 percent, 11.1 percent, and 10.5 percent, respectively, while the Northeast registered an 8 percent decline.

Publication date: 6/25/2012

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