Total housing starts in October were above expectations, and starts in August and September were revised up, combined. The single family sectors has increased sharply, but the volatile multi-family sector is down year-over-year (apartments are under pressure from COVID).
The housing starts report showed starts were up 4.9% in October compared to September, and starts were up 14.2% year-over-year compared to October 2019.
Single family starts were up 29% year-over-year. Low mortgage rates and limited existing home inventory have given a boost to single family housing starts.
The first graph shows the month to month comparison for total starts between 2019 (blue) and 2020 (red).
Starts were up 14.2% in October compared to October 2019.
Last year, in 2019, starts picked up towards the end of the year, so the comparisons were earlier this year.
Starts, year-to-date, are up 6.7% compared to the same period in 2019. This is close to my forecast for 2020, although I didn’t expect a pandemic!
I expect starts to remain solid, but the growth rate will slow.
Below is an update to the graph comparing multi-family starts and completions. Since it usually takes over a year on average to complete a multi-family project, there is a lag between multi-family starts and completions. Completions are important because that is new supply added to the market, and starts are important because that is future new supply (units under construction is also important for employment).
These graphs use a 12 month rolling total for NSA starts and completions.
The rolling 12 month total for starts (blue line) increased steadily for several years following the great recession – then mostly moved sideways. Completions (red line) had lagged behind – then completions caught up with starts- then starts picked up a little again late last year, but have fallen off the pandemic.
The last graph shows single family starts and completions. It usually only takes about 6 months between starting a single family home and completion – so the lines are much closer. The blue line is for single family starts and the red line is for single family completions.
Single family starts are getting back to more normal levels, and I expect some further increases in single family starts and completions on rolling 12 month basis.