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Building clawed 0.9 percent higher in July, but still underwhelmed year-over-year, according to the Commerce Department. Combined, housing starts totaled 1.17 million, with 303,000 multifamily (five units or more) starts and 862,000 single-family starts. On an annual basis, starts tumbled 1.4 percent.

Approvals for builds, encouragingly, increased 1.5 percent to 1.31 million permits, with approvals for single-family starts up 1.9 percent to 869,000. Approvals for multifamily starts came in at 410,000.

Completions disappointed, however, at 1.19 million in total—a decline of 1.7 percent—and dropped 5.2 percent in the single-family space to 814,000. Completions for multifamily totaled 371,000.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), builders are confident in the market, but affordability concerns are intensifying, as climbing costs for labor and materials move prices into out-of-reach territory.

“Supply-side challenges, including increases in material prices and chronic labor shortages, are affecting affordability in many markets,” according to Robert Dietz, chief economist of the NAHB, in an update. “However, consumer demand remains strong, due to a growing economy and job market and favorable demographics.

“Moreover, on a year-to-date basis, single-family construction has shown steady progress, up 7.2 percent, while five-plus multifamily production is up 3.4 percent, as well,” Dietz said.

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