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We found out this morning the housing market is continuing to look stronger.  Housing starts are up +24% from this time last year, but are still well below a bubble peak near 2.3 million units in 2006.

First, the leading housing indicator, which is building permits, was up:

The government reported Wed. Feb. 20 that building permits, a sign of future demand, rose +1.8% in January to a rate of 925,000 -- the highest rate since June 2008. Permits for single-family homes rose +1.9% to a rate of 584,000.  Permits for structures with two or more units (aka apartments) increased +1.5% to a rate of 341,000.

Key Facts

  • 56% of single-family permits are started in the same month, while
  • 62% of apartments are started within that month or the one following.
  • 71% of single-family houses are completed in six months.
  • Only 20% of apartments are completed in six months.

Next, coincident indicators, single family and apartment starts, were mixed:

Starts for single-family homes ticked up +0.8% to a rate of 613,000, the highest rate since July 2008.

But starts for structures with two or more units (aka apartments) fell -24% in January to a rate of 277,000.

Finally, the lagging indicator, construction, was down:

Led lower by apartments, construction on new U.S. homes fell -8.5% in January to 890,000 (SAAR) units, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Forecasters thought January's starts would decline to 914,000 units. 

This was a miss.

On the brighter side, a preliminary December construction estimate of 954,000 units, on lower apartment construction, was revised up to 973,000.

More apartments were completed in December than thought, and this pulled down the January construction numbers.

What is your take on these numbers?  Is this going to help or hurt the housing stocks and the overall market?




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