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Single-family housing starts in February were at a rate of 822,000, a 7.2 percent increase from the revised January figure of 767,000, according to data released this morning by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Privately-owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,178,000, which is 5.2 percent above the revised January estimate of 1,120,000 and is 30.9 percent spike from the February 2015 rate of 900,000.
Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 731,000, a relatively scant 0.4 percent uptick from the revised January figure of 728,000. Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,167,000, which is a 3.1 percent drop from the revised January rate of 1,204,000, but is 6.3 percent increase from the February 2015 estimate of 1,098,000.
Single-family housing completions in February were at a rate of 736,000, up 6.1 percent from the revised January rate of 694,000. Privately-owned housing completions in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,016,000, which is down 4.2 percent from the revised January estimate of 1,060,000, but is 17.5 percent above the February 2015 rate of 865,000.
Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 11 found the Market Composite Index down 3.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis and down three percent on an unadjusted basis from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 0.3 percent to its highest level since January 2016, while the unadjusted Purchase Index increased one percent compared with the previous week and was 33 percent higher than the same week one year ago.
The Refinance Index, however, fell six percent from the previous week and the refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to its lowest level since August 2015, with 55 percent of total applications; last week, the level was 56.7 percent.
Among the government loan programs, the FHA share of total applications decreased to 11.7 percent from 12 percent and the VA share of total applications decreased to 12.3 percent from 12.6 percent. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged from 0.8 percent the week prior.