Housing starts in the U.S. hit their highest level since 2006 in March as builders increased production on multifamily projects in an effort to meet inventory demands, according to a U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development report released on Tuesday.

Privately owned housing starts increased 0.3 percent from revised February figures to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.79 million, which was also up 3.9 percent from 1.72 million in March 2021. The rise in starts also marked the strongest pace of multifamily construction since January 2020.

Meanwhile, single-family housing starts in March dipped 1.7 percent from the previous month to a rate of 1.2 million, a figure that remains well-above pre-pandemic levels. The rate for units in buildings with five or more units was 574,000.

Building permits for privately owned units in March rose 0.4 percent from February’s revised rate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.87 million, beating economists’ expectations of a 2.1 percent drop in permits. Those permits were also 6.7 percent above March 2021’s rate of 1.75 million.

Single-family homes authorized by building permits in March, however, dropped 4.8 percent from the month before to a rate of 1.15 million. Permits on units in buildings with five or more units were at a rate of 672,000.

Completions on privately owned homes dropped 4.5 percent from February’s revised figures to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.3 million. The decline also marked a 13.0 percent drop from March 2021’s rate of 1.5 million.

Single-family housing completions also dropped during March, by 6.4 percent from the previous month to a rate of 1.0 million. Meanwhile,  the rate for units in buildings with five or more units was 292,000.

A report released by the National Association of Home Builders on Monday showed builder confidence dropped by 2 points in April, amid material shortages and rising mortgage rates.

Email Lillian Dickerson

HUD
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