Housing Starts Rise In November As Builders Gear Up For The Holidays

December 18, 2002

Encouraged by strong buyer demand, low interest rates, improving consumer sentiment and healthy house-price performance, builders ramped up the pace at which they started new homes and apartments to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.70 million units in November, the Commerce Department reported today. This was a 2.4 percent increase from an upwardly revised rate of 1.66 million units in October.

"The housing market remains a true bright spot amidst the slowly reviving economy, and we're ending 2002 on a high note," said Gary Garczynski, president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Woodbridge, Va. "Prevailing market fundamentals are especially boosting builder confidence in the single-family sector, as evidenced by our latest surveys as well as today's production numbers."

Single-family starts were up nearly 1 percent from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.39 million units in November. Multifamily starts, which tend to bounce around from month to month, rose 10 percent in November to a 307,000-unit rate, partially offsetting a big dip in the previous month.

Regionally, overall starts rose by double digits in the Midwest and South, which registered 10.9 percent and 10.1 percent gains, respectively. Housing production slowed 5.6 percent in the Northeast and 11.9 percent in the West, respectively.

Building permits, which can be an indicator of future building activity, declined 2.7 percent in November, due entirely to a 12.2 percent decline to a 353,000-unit rate on the multifamily side. Single-family permits were essentially unchanged in November, at a healthy rate of 1.37 million units. Three out of four regions saw slower permit activity last month, with the Northeast, Midwest and South posting declines of 8.5 percent, 5.2 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, and the West registering a nearly one percent gain.

Garczynski noted that residential building is now running well above the pace set in the first 11 months of last year, with overall housing starts besting last year's January through November total by 5.2 percent. "Production of single-family units is ahead by 6 percent and multifamily building is ahead by 2 percent. That's great news leading up to the holidays," he said.

NAHB is projecting a total of 1.69 million housing starts for all of 2002, the greatest number in 16 years, including 1.35 million single-family housing starts, the greatest number in 14 years.

Source: National Association of Home Builders

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