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Housing Starts Up in August

Worker building a two-story residential house
Total housing starts were 3.9% higher than July 2021 and 17.4% above August 2020, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Total housing starts in August were 3.9% higher than July, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Starts increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.62 million units, up from 1.55 million the previous month, according to the report. 

The 1.62 million units are also 17.4% above the August 2020 rate of 1.37 million, the data shows. 

Single-family starts were down 2.8% to a 1.08 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, according to the report.

Year-to-date, the starts are up 28.3%, per the data. 

Starts for multifamily units, such as apartments and condos, saw a 20.6% increase, according to the report. 

Viewpoints

Strong multifamily production helped push overall housing starts up in August as single-family starts edged lower due to ongoing supply chain issues and labor challenges, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said of the report. 

The August reading of 1.62 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months, NAHB noted. 

"Single-family construction is normalizing at more sustainable levels after an increase in building material pricing," said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke, a custom home builder from Tampa, Florida. "Demand remains strong, but the market is facing increasing housing affordability issues after a run-up in new and existing home prices. Multifamily construction increased in August, with NAHB expecting a solid gain for apartment construction in 2021 after a slight decline last year."

"More inventory is coming for a market that continues to face a housing deficit," NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz added. "The number of single-family homes under construction in August-702,000-is the highest since the Great Recession and is 32.7% higher than a year ago. While some building materials, like lumber, have seen easing prices, delivery delays and a lack of skilled labor and building lots continue to hold the market back."

Single-family units permitted but not started are up 50% from a year ago, which, according to NAHB, is a sign of persistent supply-chain issues. 

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