Tag Archives: Housing starts

PRAGCAP: Lumber Futures Could be Pointing to Improved Residential Construction

Lumber Futures Could be Pointing to Improved Residential Construction

By Walter Kurtz, Sober Look

Lumber futures turned out to be a good predictor of US housing starts. The large decline earlier this year (see post) translated into weaker than expected residential construction in June (see post). That means we should certainly pay close attention to lumber as a leading indicator. And July is showing a steady increase in prices, potentially pointing to improving demand (see figure 1).

After a disappointing result in June, is construction picking up this month ? Many economists think so. The key data that researchers point to is the Homebuilders’ survey, which is at the highest levels since 2006 (see figure 2).

The index had certainly diverged from housing starts in the past, but the combination of this survey and higher lumber prices may be pointing to an improvement in residential construction for July. The US economy could certainly use it.

Lumber futures

(Figure 1)

Homebuilder survey

(Figure 2 – Source: DB)

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CR: Housing Starts increase in May to 914,000 SAAR

Housing Starts increase in May to 914,000 SAAR

by Bill McBride on 6/18/2013 08:30:00 AM

From the Census Bureau: Permits, Starts and Completions

Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 914,000. This is 6.8 percent above the revised April estimate of 856,000 and is 28.6 percent above the May 2012 rate of 711,000.

Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 599,000; this is 0.3 percent above the revised April figure of 597,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 306,000.

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 974,000. This is 3.1 percent below the revised April rate of 1,005,000, but is 20.8 percent above the May 2012 estimate of 806,000.

Single-family authorizations in May were at a rate of 622,000; this is 1.3 percent above the revised April figure of 614,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 374,000 in April.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing StartsClick on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows single and multi-family housing starts for the last several years.

Multi-family starts (red, 2+ units) increased in May following the sharp decrease in April (Multi-family is volatile month-to-month).

Single-family starts (blue) increased slightly to 599,000 SAAR in May (Note: April was revised down from 610 thousand to 597 thousand).

The second graph shows total and single unit starts since 1968.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing StartsThis shows the huge collapse following the housing bubble, and that housing starts have been generally increasing after moving sideways for about two years and a half years.

This was below expectations of 950 thousand starts in May.  Total starts in May were up 28.6% from May 2012; however single family starts were only up 16.3% year-over-year.  I’ll have more later …

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/06/housing-starts-increase-in-may-to.html#fAlroSTqdHu1xKy8.99

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CR: The Two Bottoms for Housing

Update: The Two Bottoms for Housing

by Bill McBride on 5/24/2013  

By request, I’ve updated the graphs in this post with the most recent data. Last year when I wrote The Housing Bottom is Here and Housing: The Two Bottoms, I pointed out there are usually two bottoms for housing: the first for new home sales, housing starts and residential investment, and the second bottom is for house prices.

For the bottom in activity, I presented a graph of Single family housing starts, New Home Sales, and Residential Investment (RI) as a percent of GDP.

When I posted that graph, the bottom wasn’t obvious to everyone. Now it is, and here is another update to that graph.

Starts, new home sales, residential Investment Click on graph for larger image.

The arrows point to some of the earlier peaks and troughs for these three measures.

The purpose of this graph is to show that these three indicators generally reach peaks and troughs together. Note that Residential Investment is quarterly and single-family starts and new home sales are monthly.

For the recent housing bust, the bottom was spread over a few years from 2009 into 2011. This was a long flat bottom – something a number of us predicted given the overhang of existing vacant housing units.

We could use any of these three measures to determine the first bottom, and then use the other two to confirm the bottom. These measure are very important and are probably the best leading indicators for the economy. But this says nothing about house prices.

Residential Investment and House prices The second graph compares RI as a percent of GDP with the real (adjusted for inflation) CoreLogic house price index through February.

Although the CoreLogic data only goes back to 1976, look at what happened following the early ’90s housing bust. RI as a percent of GDP bottomed in Q1 1991, but real house prices didn’t bottom until Q4 1996 (real prices were mostly flat for several years). Something similar happened in the early 1980s – first activity bottomed, and then real prices – although the two bottoms were closer in the ’80s.

Now it appears activity bottomed in 2009 through 2011 (depending on the measure) and real house prices bottomed in early 2012.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/05/update-two-bottoms-for-housing.html#Xos7EeY1TxJ1aVPg.99

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CR: Housing Starts decline sharply in April to 853,000 SAAR

Housing Starts decline sharply in April to 853,000 SAAR

by Bill McBride on 5/16/2013 

From the Census Bureau: Permits, Starts and Completions

Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000. This is 16.5 percent below the revised March estimate of 1,021,000, but is 13.1 percent above the April 2012 rate of 754,000.

Single-family housing starts in April were at a rate of 610,000; this is 2.1 percent below the revised March figure of 623,000. The April rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 234,000.

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,017,000. This is 14.3 percent above the revised March rate of 890,000 and is 35.8 percent above the April 2012 estimate of 749,000.

Single-family authorizations in April were at a rate of 617,000; this is 3.0 percent above the revised March figure of 599,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 374,000 in April.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts Click on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows single and multi-family housing starts for the last several years.

Multi-family starts (red, 2+ units) decreased sharply in April following the sharp increase in March (Multi-family is volatile month-to-month).

Single-family starts (blue) declined to 610,000 in April (Note: March was revised up from 619 thousand to 623 thousand).

The second graph shows total and single unit starts since 1968.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts This shows the huge collapse following the housing bubble, and that housing starts have been generally increasing after moving sideways for about two years and a half years.

This was well below expectations of 969 thousand starts in April, mostly due to the sharp decrease in multi-family starts.  Total starts in April were only up 13.1% from April 2012; however single family starts were up 20.8% year-over-year.  I’ll have more later …

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/05/housing-starts-decline-sharply-in-april.html#8HKI8RCPXZelZDt8.99

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CR: Housing Starts increase to 1.036 million SAAR in March

Housing Starts increase to 1.036 million SAAR in March

by Bill McBride on 4/16/2013 

From the Census Bureau: Permits, Starts and Completions

Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,036,000. This is 7.0 percent above the revised February estimate of 968,000 and is 46.7 percent above the March 2012 rate of 706,000.

Single-family housing starts in March were at a rate of 619,000; this is 4.8 percent below the revised February figure of 650,000. The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 392,000.

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 902,000. This is 3.9 percent below the revised February rate of 939,000, but is 17.3 percent above the March 2012 estimate of 769,000.

Single-family authorizations in March were at a rate of 595,000; this is 0.5 percent below the revised February figure of 598,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 283,000 in March.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts Click on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows single and multi-family housing starts for the last several years.

Multi-family starts (red, 2+ units) increased sharply in March.

Single-family starts (blue) declined to 619,000 in March (Note: February was revised up sharply from 618 thousand to 650 thousand).

The second graph shows total and single unit starts since 1968.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts This shows the huge collapse following the housing bubble, and that housing starts have been increasing after moving sideways for about two years and a half years.

This was well above expectations of 930 thousand starts in March, mostly due to the sharp increase in multi-family starts – and the highest level since June 2008.  Starts in March were up 46.7% from March 2012; single family starts were up 28.7% year-over-year. Starts in February were revised up sharply. I’ll have more later, but this was a strong report.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/04/housing-starts-increase-to-1036-million.html#4zSpdkMMuKCCOFGC.99

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CR: Housing Starts and the Unemployment Rate

Housing Starts and the Unemployment Rate

by Bill McBride on 3/24/2013 

By request, here is an update to a graph that I’ve been posting for several years.  This shows single family housing starts (through February 2013) and the unemployment rate (inverted) also through February. Note: there are many other factors impacting unemployment, but housing is a key sector.

You can see both the correlation and the lag. The lag is usually about 12 to 18 months, with peak correlation at a lag of 16 months for single unit starts. The 2001 recession was a business investment led recession, and the pattern didn’t hold.

Housing starts (blue) increased a little in 2009 with the homebuyer tax credit – and then declined again – but mostly starts moved sideways for two and a half years and only started increasing steadily near the end of 2011. This was one of the reasons the unemployment rate remained elevated.

Housing Starts and Unemployment RateClick on graph for larger image.

Usually near the end of a recession, residential investment (RI) picks up as the Fed lowers interest rates. This leads to job creation and also additional household formation – and that leads to even more demand for housing units – and more jobs, and more households – a virtuous cycle that usually helps the economy recover.  However this time, with the huge overhang of existing housing units, this key sector didn’t participate for an extended period.

The good news is single family starts have been increasing steadily for over a year, and that should mean more construction employment this year, and that the unemployment rate should decline further in 2013.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/03/housing-starts-and-unemployment-rate.html#1S1MrI1OOd6JMEeC.99

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CR: Housing Starts increase to 917 thousand SAAR in February

Housing Starts increase to 917 thousand SAAR in February

by Bill McBride on 3/19/2013 

From the Census Bureau: Permits, Starts and Completions

Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. This is 0.8 percent above the revised January estimate of 910,000 and is 27.7 percent above the February 2012 rate of 718,000.

Single-family housing starts in February were at a rate of 618,000; this is 0.5 percent above the revised January figure of 615,000. The February rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 285,000.

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000. This is 4.6 percent above the revised January rate of 904,000 and is 33.8 percent above the February 2012 estimate of 707,000.

Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 600,000; this is 2.7 percent above the revised January figure of 584,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 316,000 in February.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing StartsClick on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows single and multi-family housing starts for the last several years.

Multi-family starts (red, 2+ units) increased slightly in February.

Single-family starts (blue) increased to 618,000 thousand in February and are at the highest level since June 2008.

The second graph shows total and single unit starts since 1968.

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing StartsThis shows the huge collapse following the housing bubble, and that housing starts have been increasing lately after moving sideways for about two years and a half years.

Total starts are up about 90% from the bottom start rate, and single family starts are up about 75% from the post-bubble low.

This was at expectations of 919 thousand starts in February. Starts in February were up 27.7% from February 2012; single family starts were up 31.5% year-over-year. Starts in December and January were revised up, and permits were strong. I’ll have more later, but this was another solid report.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/03/housing-starts-increase-to-917-thousand.html#4OTpRLvXdhEDMegM.99

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