Housing Starts and Permits for March Begin Feeling the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that privately‐owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,216,000. This is <-22.3 %> below the revised February estimate of 1,564,000, but is 1.4% above the March 2019 rate of 1,199,000. Single‐family housing starts in March were at a rate of 856,000; this is <-17.5%> below the revised February figure of 1,037,000. Permits are the forward-looking part of the report and privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,353,000. This is <-6.8%> below the revised February rate of 1,452,000, but is 5.0% above the March 2019 rate of 1,288,000.  Single‐family authorizations in March were at a rate of 884,000; this is <-12.0%> below the revised February figure of 1,005,000. Earlier National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) indicates that builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes plummeted 42 point in April to a reading of 30, from a March reading of 72. The HMI is now at its lowest point since June 2012.


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New Residential Construction