Groundbreaking on new single-family homes posted a 6 percent rise in March, showing a gradual strengthening in the sector — particularly in the Northeast and Midwest — according to new figures by the Commerce Department.
On the other hand, the volatile multifamily market saw starts fall 6.1 percent in March. Overall, housing production, which reflects both multifamily and single-family starts, rose 2.8 percent month-over-month. Starts were down 5.9 percent compared to March 2013, the largest year-over-year decline since April 2011.
Still, “we see improving signs of new-home construction as we move into the spring buying season,” says Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “The strongest recovery is in the Northeast and Midwest, where builders were hampered by severe winter weather earlier in the year.”
Single-family and multifamily housing starts rose the strongest in the Northeast and Midwest with gains of 30.7 percent and 65.5 percent, respectively. Starts fell in the South by 9.1 percent and by 4.5 percent in the West.
Builders remain cautious about demand, facing continued tight credit conditions for home buyers and erratic job growth, says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.
Construction permits, a gauge of future construction, dropped 2.4 percent to 990,000 units in March. Permits rose 33.3 percent in the Northeast and 26 percent in the Midwest, while declining 17.1 percent in the South and remaining unchanged in the West.