The U.S. Census Bureau’s numbers for July housing starts are in, and the news is mixed, especially when you compare it to other recent analyst estimates. According to the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development’s joint release of new residential construction statistics for last month, housing starts in July were more sluggish than expected, but are still far above last year’s results and are hitting rates not seen since before the recession.

Takeaways:

  • Permits for residential construction fell 16.3 percent in July, but are still 7.5 percent higher than the numbers reported in July 2014.
  • Housing starts rose 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of approximately 1.21 million, from a substantially revised June estimate of slightly above 1.2 million — making July the best month for starts since late 2007.
  • Multifamily unit construction fell 17.1 percent from June to July, and 2.1 percent from July 2014. Single-family starts fared a bit better, increasing 12.8 percent to 782,000 from June’s rate of 693,000 and 19 percent over the same period last year.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s numbers for July housing starts are in, and the news is mixed, especially when you compare it to other recent analyst estimates.

According to the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development’s joint release of new residential construction statistics for last month, housing starts in July were more sluggish than expected, but are still far above last year’s results and are hitting rates not seen since before the recession.

Permits for residential construction fell 16.3 percent in July, the agencies said, but that’s still 7.5 percent higher than the numbers reported in July 2014. On a nonadjusted basis, there were 100,900 permits issued nationally, compared with the 134,100 permits issued in June. Single-family permits fell by more than 5,000 to 64,700.

Last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association released its monthly Builder Application Survey, reporting that new-home applications fell by 4 percent from June to July. The association also estimated there were 44,000 new-home sales in July, a decrease of 2.2 percent from June’s 45,000 sales.

Although the Census Bureau figures show a sharper decline, the bureau also noted that housing starts rose 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of approximately 1.21 million, from a substantially revised June estimate of just above 1.2 million — making July the best month for starts since late 2007.

Multifamily unit construction fell 17.1 percent from June to July, and 2.1 percent from July 2014. Single-family starts fared a bit better, increasing 12.8 percent to 782,000 from June’s rate of 693,000 and 19 percent over the same period last year.

Metropolitan areas in the Northeast saw the biggest decline, with permits dropping 60.2 percent since June and 5 percent from July 2014. Northeast starts fell 27.5 percent from June, but increased 15.8 percent since July 2014. Housing completions in the Northeast increased 36.1 percent since June and 5.4 percent over the same period last year.

Next were permits in the West, which fell 9.9 percent month over month, but increased 10.9 percent over July 2014. Housing starts fell by 3.1 percent from June, but increased 4.1 percent since July 2014. Completions were down 3.2 percent for the month and up 13.6 percent for the year.

In the Midwest, permitting fell 4.6 percent from June and 2 percent from a year earlier. Housing starts rose 20.1 percent and 10.5 percent from the two earlier periods. Completions were up by 12.2 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively.

The South fared the best of all regions, with a permitting decrease of 1.7 percent compared to June, but a 12.7 percent gain from a year earlier. Starts rose 7.7 percent from June and 11.6 percent from July 2014, while completions slid 2.7 percent month over month, but were 18.7 percent above those in the same month last year.

Email Amy Swinderman.

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