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Housing starts took an abrupt dive last month, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).
Single-family housing starts in March were at a rate of 764,000, a 9.2 percent drop from the revised February figure of 841,000. Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,089,000, which is 8.8 percent below the revised February estimate of 1,194,000—but on a positive note, last month’s level is 14.2 percent above the March 2015 rate of 954,000.
Last month’s single-family authorizations were at a rate of 727,000, a 1.2 percent downturn from February’s level of 736,000. Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,086,000, a 7.7 percent slide from the revised February rate of 1,177,000 but a 4.6 percent uptick from the March 2015 estimate of 1,038,000.
“This is a disappointing report," said Genworth Mortgage Insurance Chief Economist Tian Liu. "We still expect strong housing demand and low inventory in the market for previously owned homes to lift single-family housing starts, later in the year.”
Single-family housing completions in March were at a rate of 734,000, a slight 0.3 percent dip from the revised February rate of 736,000. But there was a sliver of good news in the data: privately-owned housing completions in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,061,000, 3.5 percent above the revised February estimate of 1,025,000 and 31.6 percent above the March 2015 rate of 806,000.