Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Housing starts in western US fall 19 percent

Housing starts in the West census region of the US, which includes Colorado, fell 19 percent from March 2010 to March 2011. According to new housing construction and housing starts data released today by the US Census Bureau, there were approximately 9,300 housing units started in the West during March 2011. Of the new units started, 7,300 were single-family structures and 2,000 were structures containing more than one housing unit.

Nationally, housing starts fell 16 percent during the same period, with total housing starts falling to a total of 45,900.

The first graph shows the overall trend of housing starts nationally and in the West census region. Total housing starts remain near ten year lows in both measures.

The West census region includes California, so given the size of the West census region, the fact that total housing starts are below 10,000 indicates that new home construction continues to be very light throughout the region.

The second graph shows the difference between single-family starts and starts for structures with more than one housing unit. Both remain near ten-year lows, and single-family starts fell 24 percent from March 2010 to March 2011. However, starts for structures with more than one unit increased by 11 percent during the same period. Given recent data showing strength in the demand for rental-housing, the housing starts data may suggest that developers of rental housing are beginning to move forward with construction of new multifamily structures.

The third graph shows month-by-month comparisons in housing starts for each year. March's housing starts total was the second lowest total for the month in at least ten years. Only 2009 showed fewer housing starts for March. March produced the largest number of housing starts in six months, but much of this is due to seasonal factors.