October home building activity sends mixed signals
The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on home construction activity sent mixed signals for next year’s homebuilding outlook. While the number of housing starts grew 1.5 percent in October compared to the prior month, it represented a 2.9 percent decline from the same month last year.
Also, much of the increase in residential building activity came from the multifamily sector rather than the single-family market. Moreover, other measures included in the October report came in well below expectations. Residential building permit issues declined 0.6 percent over the previous month and is 6 percent below Oct. 2017. Home completions also fell 6.5 percent compared to the same month last year. Overall, the report’s headline figure showing month-over-month improvement in construction starts was overshadowed by continually weak activity compared to 2017 and analyst expectations.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had projected construction starts to grow by 2.4 percent in October, and permits to grow by 2.3 percent. According to Zillow chief economist Aaron Terrazas, some of the poor performance in housing starts last month may be the result of recent damaging storms in the southeastern U.S. However, Terrazas noted that “last
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