• A drop in starts as the industry enters fall is not the most positive sign.
  • Despite concerns regarding lot availability and labor, homebuilders appear confident moving forward.
  • Overall housing starts -- single-family and multifamily -- are still up by nearly 17 percent compared to last year.

Nationally, housing starts activity dropped in August, while the volume of homes authorized by building permits rose.

According to residential construction data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, single-family starts reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 739,000 during August.

This figure represents a 3 percent dip in projected annual starts volume when compared to July’s rate of 762,000.

“Builders are reporting concerns with lots and labor availability, which could have contributed to this month’s production dip,” said Tom Woods, chairman for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“A slight one-month decline (in starts) is not unusual,” added David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist.

The builder association is projecting roughly 1.1 million total housing starts to occur this year and is encouraged by the growth in building permits authorized during August.

According to the Census Bureau, the number of housing units authorized by building permits in August hit a rate of 699,000 — a 2.8 percent increase from July.

“Permit growth indicates that our members feel confident that consumers are returning to the market,” Woods said.

It was also reported that single-family completions were up 1.6 percent in August when compared to July. The seasonally adjusted rate reached in August was 646,000 completions.

A recently released housing market index from NAHB found that builders’ confidence in the newly constructed, single-family housing market is the highest it’s been since October 2005.

Overall, the volume of privately owned housing starts — both single-family and multifamily — reached an annual rate of approximately 1.13 million in August. This is 3 percent below July, but 16.6 percent above August 2014.

Email Erik Pisor.

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