Single-family housing production was virtually unchanged in March, while the multifamily sector saw a double-digit decline. The combined nationwide numbers brings the housing numbers down 5.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000 units, according to data released by the U.S. Commerce Department today.
"While more consumers appear
to be seriously considering a new-home purchase, builders remain very cautious
about starting new projects until they see more actual sales
materializing," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association
of Home Builders and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. "At the same
time, in places where buyers are ready to go forward with a purchase, access to
credit for both builders and buyers and difficulties in obtaining accurate
appraisals are persistent challenges that continue to slow that process
The 5.8 percent decline in overall
housing starts in March was mostly due to a 16.9 percent decline on the
multifamily side, which brought that sector's annual production pace to 192,000
units, seasonally adjusted. Meanwhile, single-family starts held virtually flat
for the month with a 0.2 percent decline to 462,000 units.
housing starts lost some ground in March, this was almost entirely due to
typical month-to-month volatility on the multifamily side," said NAHB
chief economist David Crowe. "The fact is that single-family and
multifamily starts and permits were all stronger in the first quarter of 2012
than they were in the fourth quarter of 2011, indicating that the market
continues to slowly strengthen, albeit in fits and starts."