Last week saw September Housing Starts UP 0.3% to an annual rate of 610,000 units, well ahead of the expected 580,000 unit pace. Even better, starts are UP 4.1% over a year ago. Interestingly, the September gain was totally driven by a healthy 4.4% rise in single family starts, while multi-family starts dropped 9.7%. But multi-family starts are volatile month to month, and are actually up 100.0% compared to a year ago, while single family starts are off 10.8% during the same time frame.
Builders remain cautious, as new Building Permits for September dropped 5.6%, to a 539,000 annual rate. This number of course reflects plans for builder activity a few months out. Nonetheless, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported builder confidence rose in October for the first time in five months. This brings it to a level not seen since June. The NAHB’s chief economist feels the new home market is now past the quiet period that followed the expiration of the home buyer tax credits and the summer slowdown in the economy.