WASHINGTON — Nationwide housing starts were virtually unchanged in May, inching down 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. Overall permit issuance edged up 0.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million.
“Despite May’s relatively flat report, our builders are telling us that the market is improving and consumers are more ready and willing to make a home purchase,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill.
“Builder confidence rose this month and single-family housing starts are up roughly 10% from a year ago—two indicators that we can expect further growth in housing production this year,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, builders continue to face supply-side constraints, such as shortages of buildable lots and labor.”
Single-family housing starts inched up 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 units in May while multifamily production edged down 1.2% to 400,000 units.
Combined single- and multifamily starts were mixed in May, rising 14.4% in the West and 1.5% in the South. The Midwest posted a 2.5% loss and the Northeast registered a 33.3% loss. However, single-family production rose in three out of the four regions — the Northeast, South and West.
Single-family permits fell 2% to a rate of 726,000 while multifamily permits rose 5.9% to 412,000.
Permit issuance increased 15.3% in the West. Meanwhile, the South, Northeast and Midwest posted respective losses of 1.4%, 7.8% and 9.2%.