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U.S. Housing Market Starts Fall, Take Note of Composition

Housing-Market / US Housing Aug 17, 2012 - 05:40 AM GMT

By: Asha_Bangalore

Housing-Market

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleHousing starts fell 1.1% during July to an annual rate of 746,000. This level is about 56% above the low (478,000) registered in April 2009. In July, new home building activity advanced in the multi-family sector (+12.4%) but declined in the single-family sector (-6.5%). Despite these mixed numbers, as Chart 1 indicates, there is a steady but small upward trend of total housing starts in place, with most of the gain occurring since early-2011.


It is more interesting to examine the composition of housing starts because it gives clues as to which sector has done the heavy lifting. Single-family starts, which make up the bulk of total housing starts, have moved up roughly 42% through July (502,000) from a low of 353,000 established in March 2009 compared with a hefty 321% jump in starts of multi-family units from the cycle low of 58,000 seen in October 2009.

The concentration of home building activity in the multi-family sector is explained by incentives. Rental demand for living has increased in the face of a weak labor market recovery and tight mortgage credit conditions and resulted in rising rents. In lieu of better measures of rent, rental costs from the Consumer Price Index report show an accelerating trend that exceeds the increase reported for owners’ equivalent rent (see Chart 3).

Looking ahead, permit extensions for construction of new single-family homes rose 4.5%, while that of multi-family units rose 11.2%. These data suggest that new home construction activity should show an improvement in the near term.

Asha Bangalore — Senior Vice President and Economist

http://www.northerntrust.com

Asha Bangalore is Vice President and Economist at The Northern Trust Company, Chicago. Prior to joining the bank in 1994, she was Consultant to savings and loan institutions and commercial banks at Financial & Economic Strategies Corporation, Chicago.

Copyright © 2012 Asha Bangalore

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Northern Trust Company. The Northern Trust Company does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of information contained herein, such information is subject to change and is not intended to influence your investment decisions.


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