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Single-Family Housing Starts Up, Builder Confidence Down

Phil Hall
Mar 16, 2018
Freddie Mac has released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) dropped slightly after weeks of steady increases

Single-family housing starts in February were at a rate of 902,000, which is 2.9 percent above the revised January figure of 877,000, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Privately-owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,236,000, which is seven percent below the revised January estimate of 1,329,000 and is four below the February 2017 rate of 1,288,000.
 
Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 872,000, which is 0.6 percent below the revised January figure of 877,000. Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,298,000, which is 5.7 percent below the revised January rate of 1,377,000, but it is also 6.5 percent above the February 2017 rate of 1,219,000.
 
Single-family housing completions in February were at a rate of 895,000, which is three percent above the revised January rate of 869,000. Privately-owned housing completions in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,319,000, which is 7.8 percent above the revised January estimate of 1,224,000 and is 13.6 percent above the February 2017 rate of 1,161,000.
 
Separately, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes fell by one point to a level of 70 in March from a downwardly revised February reading on the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI component gauging current sales conditions held steady at 77, while the chart measuring sales expectations in the next six months dipped by two points to 78 and the index gauging buyer traffic fell three points to 51. Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast rose one point to 57 while the South decreased one point to 73, the West fell two points to 79, and the Midwest dropped four points to 68.
 
“Builders’ optimism continues to be fueled by growing consumer demand for housing and confidence in the market,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, La. “However, builders are reporting challenges in finding buildable lots, which could limit their ability to meet this demand.”

 
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