Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Single-family housing starts down again as multifamily starts surge

Housing starts in the West census region of the US, which includes Colorado, were flat from April 2010 to April 2011, counting both single-family and multi-family units. According to new housing construction and housing starts data released today by the US Census Bureau, there were approximately 10,000 housing units started in the West during April 2011. Of the new units started, 7,100 were single-family structures and 2,900 were structures containing more than one housing unit.

Nationally, housing starts fell 24 percent during the same period, with total housing starts falling to a total of 46,800

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, and very little has changed since early 2009.

The West census region includes California, so given the size of the West census region, the fact that total housing starts are at 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 22 percent from April 2010 to April 2011. However, starts for structures with more than one unit increased by 262 percent during the same period, although it was easy to produce a very large percentage increase since total multifamily permits totaled a mere 800 units during April of last year. 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. April's housing starts total has been flat at 10,000 for April 2011, April 2010 and April 2009. It has been more than ten years since there were fewer than 10,000 starts in the month of April. April produced the largest number of housing starts in seven months, but much of this is due to seasonal factors.