Housing data this morning came in mixed as Housing Starts missed expectations while Building Permits exceeded forecasts. As shown in the table to the right, starts came in 35K below consensus forecasts while permits exceeded forecasts by 10K. The table below breaks down today’s report in terms of both regions and size of units.
As far as unit sizes are concerned, both single and multi-family units were just about equally weak in March with both declining between six and eight percent. Building Permits saw more disparate results as single-family permits declined modestly while multi-family units surged over 13%. On a regional basis, the only area of the US where starts increased was in the Northeast. Meanwhile, permits saw a m/m increase in every region except the Midwest.
So how does the current level of starts compare to history? The chart below shows the historical monthly Housing Starts report going back to 1959. At this month’s level of 1.215 mln on a seasonally adjusted rate, Housing Starts are still more than 200K below their historical average going back to 1959, and haven’t seen even an average monthly reading once during the current expansion. The closest we came to average was last October when the SAAR monthly reading hit 1.32 million. What’s even more startling about this lack of a single ‘average’ monthly reading is that it doesn’t even account for the increase in population during this period. Decades ago, Housing Starts were routinely in the 1.5 million range even when the US population was not much more than half of the size that it is now. Start a 14-day free trial to unlock all of Bespoke’s financial markets research.