New home construction starts off 2011 with a ‘fizzle’

New construction dn-3

The U.S. Census Bureau and US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a their report on New Residential Construction for January 2011 showing a 4.8 percent decrease in single-family home building permits from December, and a 1.0 percent decrease in new home starts compared to the month before.

The report shows:

  • Building permits issued for single-family residences in January were at an annual rate of 421,000 which is 4.8 percent below the revised December rate of 442,000 and a decrease of 17.3 percent from a year ago when the rate was 509,000.
  • Housing starts for single-family residences in January were at an annual rate of 413,000 which is a decrease of 1.0 percent from the revised rate for December of 417,000 and an decrease of 19.2 percent from a year ago.
  • Homes completed in January were at a rate of 428,000 homes, a decrease of 7.0 percent from December’s revised rate of 460,000 homes and a decrease of 2.7 percent from a year ago.

As I say every month, we need to remember that all the numbers above are “seasonally adjusted” annual rates and the year over year comparisons are just comparing the numbers for January 2011 versus January 2010. Another way I like to look at where things stand is to simply look at the year to date data; actual numbers, not seasonally adjusted, compared to last years ytd numbers at this same time. I think this may give a little better comparison so those numbers are below:

  • For 2011 there have been 26,200 permits issued for new homes compared with 30,800 this time year for a decrease of 14.9 percent.
  • For 2011 there have been 25,600 new homes started compared with 31,700 this time last year for a decrease of 19.2 percent.
  • For 2011 there have been 29,000 new homes completed, a decrease of 3.33 percent from the year before.

Let’s do one of my favorite things and look at the raw numbers and not seasonally-adjusted numbers to compare construction activity to sales:

  • In 2010 (the most recent period sales data is available for) there were 321,000 new homes sold and there were 496,800 new homes completed, outpacing sales by 54.7 percent.

I’ve been harping for a long time that I don’t get why it makes any sense in this market for new home construction to out pace new home sales, particularly to the extent we are seeing it. For this reason, I’m not surprised to see new construction numbers where they are...I actually think it will be good for the overall housing market to see new construction back down until housing inventory begins to shrink.

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