Nationwide housing starts were virtually unchanged in February, inching down 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 907,000 units, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Census Bureau.
"Continuing the January trend and in line with our recent surveys, builders are in a holding pattern. Poor weather is keeping many from getting into the field and they continue to face challenges related to a shortage of lots and labor," said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.
"While housing construction is in a recent lull due to unusual weather conditions, we expect to see an improvement as the winter weather pattern subsides and builders prepare for the spring selling season," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Competitive mortgage rates, affordable home prices and an improving economy all point to a continuing, gradual strengthening of housing activity through the rest of the year. Moreover, building permits, which are less dependent on weather and are a harbinger of future building activity, rose above one million units in February."
Single-family housing construction rose 0.3 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 units while multifamily starts edged 2.5 percent lower to a 312,000-unit pace.
Regionally, combined housing starts activity was mixed in the month, posting gains of 34.5 percent in the Midwest and 7.3 percent in the South and declines of 37.5 percent in the Northeast and 5.5 percent in the West.
Issuance of new building permits rose 7.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.02 units in February. Single-family permits edged down 1.8 percent to 588,000 units and multifamily permits rose 27.6 percent to 407,000 units. Regionally, overall permits rose 6.3 percent in the Northeast, 9.9 percent in the South and 17.9 percent in the West but declined 11.8 percent in the Midwest.