U.S. New Home Starts in March Breached One Million Units

Posted by Rumin Mann
April 24th, 2013

How long has it been? The answer: 57 months or nearly five years. June 2008 was the last time U.S. monthly housing starts, seasonally adjusted and at an annual rate (SAAR), were higher than one million units.

March 2013 new home starts in the U.S. were 1.036 million units SAAR, according to a joint press release from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In June 2008, they were 1.046 million units. Between then and now, they dropped as low as 478,000 units (less than half a million) in April 2009. They last “peaked” at 2.273 million units in January 2006…

The single-family segment of homebuilding accounted for 60% of all residential groundbreakings in the latest month, leaving the remaining 40% to multi-unit construction. The share more typically taken by single-family starts is 70% to 80%, with 20% to 30% being of the multi-unit variety.

Regionally, the strength to-date in 2013 has been mainly in the West, where average monthly starts are +63.6% versus the first quarter of last year, an increase of nearly two-thirds. The comparable figure for the South is +31.8% (almost one-third higher) while in the Northeast it is +26.9% and in the Midwest, +18.7%.

The monthly pattern in the South and West through the first three months of this year has been a steady progression of steps upward. In the Northeast and West, monthly starts have been more level.

Returning to the national scene, how significant is a “starts” figure of one million units?

It’s a huge psychological breakthrough. Far below that level, homebuilders are drowning. Slightly under a million, they’re still floundering. Above the one-million-unit threshold, residential contractors are breathing fresh air again.
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