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Housing starts increased in November by 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.55 million units, according to the latest report from the Commerce Department. Single-family starts flattened, increasing only 0.4 percent to a 1.19 million seasonally adjusted annual rate and are up 8.6 percent year-to-date. In the multifamily sector, housing starts increased 4.0 percent to a 361,000 pace.

The Breakdown:

Housing Starts: 1.54 million (+1.2% month-over-month, +12.8% year-over-year)
Multifamily Starts: 352,000
Single-Family Starts: 1,186,000

Building Permits: 1.63 million (+6.2% month-over-month, +8.5% year-over-year)
Multifamily Permits: 441,000
Single-Family Permits: 1 1,143,000

Completions: 1.16 million (-12.1% month-over-month, -4.8% year-over-year)
Multifamily Completions: 280,000
Single-Family Completions: 874,000

Regional Year-to-Date Data:

Midwest: +14.4 percent
South: +7.6 percent
West: +5.4 percent
Northeast: -3.3 percent

What the Industry Is Saying:

“With heightened levels of construction continuing well into autumn, it’s clear builders understand more new houses are desperately needed. Inventory levels remain near all-time lows, so home construction will play a crucial role in making sure prices remain affordable throughout 2021.” — Bill Banfield, Executive Vice President of Capital Markets, Rocket Mortgage

“Though single-family construction continued to be strong in November, builders are unable to keep up with demand due to rising regulatory and construction costs and shortages of lots and labor. The incoming Biden administration needs to focus on policies to improve housing affordability and to increase supply to help housing continue to lead the economy forward.” — Chuck Fowke, Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders

“The single-family construction sector appears to be leveling off at strong levels, with permits roughly at a flat level from September to October. Nonetheless, the growth for single-family construction was a true bright spot amid economic challenges in 2020, with single-family starts up 10 percent year-to-date and posting the best year since the Great Recession. However, the backlog continues to grow, with the number of single-family homes permitted but not started construction up 16.3 percent from November 2019 to November 2020 as material delays and higher costs hold back building.” — Robert Dietz, Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders

“The annual pace of new housing starts remained strong in November, helping to bring more inventory to the housing market to try to keep up with robust demand. Single-family construction slightly climbed to the highest level since 2007 and was 29 percent higher than a year ago—the fifth month of double-digit annual growth. Multifamily starts increased more substantially at 4 percent last month.

“Today’s report is consistent with other housing data that shows the housing market has rebounded substantially from the second quarter. Driven by increased demand for more indoor and outdoor space, the second half of the year continues to see more construction, home sales and mortgage originations. Additionally, permits for new single-family construction also rose to 2007 highs, potentially an indication that we might see the increase in homebuilding continue into early 2021.” — Joel Kan, AVP of Economic and Industry Forecasting, Mortgage Bankers Association

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