US single-family housing starts plunge; building permits drop

U.S. single-family homebuilding tumbled in March, and while new construction remains underpinned by a severe shortage of previously owned houses for sale, a resurgence in mortgage rates is pushing potential buyers to the sidelines.

The report from the Commerce Department on Tuesday also showed permits for future construction of single-family houses fell to a five-month low. Residential investment rebounded in the second half of 2023 after contracting for nine straight quarters, the longest such stretch since the housing market collapse in 2006. But the recovery appears to be losing steam.

“The housing recovery has stalled for now as home builder expectations of sharply lower interest rates this year have faded,” said Christopher Rupkey, chief economist at FWDBONDS. “One thing is for certain, and that is home prices are going to be on an upward, more unaffordable trend without more supply.”

Single-family housing starts, which account for the bulk of homebuilding, dropped 12.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.022 million units last month, the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau said. Data for February was revised higher to show single-family starts rebounding to a rate of 1.167 million units instead of the previously reported 1.129 million units.


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