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Housing starts slowed in February, impacted by increasing material costs and interest rates. Overall housing starts decreased 10.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.42 million units, according to the Commerce Department.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the February reading of 1.42 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this number, single-family starts dropped 8.5% to a 1.04 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. The multifamily sector decreased 15.0% to a 381,000 pace.

The Breakdown:

Housing Starts: 1.42 million (-10.3% month-over-month, -9.3% year-over-year)
Multifamily Starts: 372,000.
Single-Family Starts: 1,040,000

Building Permits: 1.68 million (-10.8% month-over-month, +17% year-over-year)
Multifamily Permits: 495,000
Single-Family Permits: 1,143,000

Completions: 1.36 million (+2.9% month-over-month, +5% year-over-year)
Multifamily Completions: 314,000
Single-Family Completions: 1,042,000

Regional Year-to-Date Data

Midwest: +1.2%
South: -13.9%
West:  -11.3%
Northeast: -9.8%

What the Industry Is Saying:

“Despite strength in buyer traffic and lack of existing inventory, builders are slowing some production of single-family homes as lumber and other material costs, along with interest rates, continue to rise. Shortages of lumber and other building materials, including appliances, are putting future construction expansion at risk.” — Chuck Fowke, Chairman, National Association of Home Builders

“While single-family starts for the first two months of the year are 6.4% higher than the first two months of 2020, there has been a 36% gain over the last 12 months of single-family homes permitted but not started as some projects have paused due to cost and availability of materials. Single-family home building is forecasted to expand in 2021, but at a slower rate as housing affordability is challenged by higher mortgage rates and rising construction costs. The February winter storm Uri also held down home building in Texas and some neighboring states.” — Robert Dietz, Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders

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