November home starts in the U.S. mean more chimneys for Santa to descend

Posted by Rumin Mann
January 10th, 2012

As set out in a joint news release from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. home starts in November rose 9.3% month to month and a smile-inducing 24.3% year over year.

With one exception – April 2010 at 687,000 units, which turned out to be an anomaly – one has to go all the way back to October 2008 (777,000 units) to find a monthly number that was higher.

In the fall of 2008, the data series was on a downward trajectory.

U.S. housing starts most recently peaked a long time ago, in January 2006 at 2.3 million units, seasonally adjusted and annualized.

What are the markers pointing to improvement in the homebuilding sector? The number of people finding work in the U.S. is increasing, initial jobless claims are declining, interest rates remain remarkably attractive and home prices offer bargains.

The multiples market, which is only 35% of the total, is continuing to outperform single-family home demand. Multi-unit starts in November were +25.3% versus October and +145% when compared with November of 2010.

Single-family starts were more stable, +2.3% month to month and -1.5% year over year.

Regionally, the West (+10.3%) has recorded the largest year-to-date percentage gain, followed by the South (+2.5). Neither the Midwest (-4.4%) nor the Northeast (-5.0%) has quite caught up with the starts performance in the same January to November period of last year.

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