According to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department, nationwide U.S. housing starts rose 3 percent in February from an upwardly revised January reading to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.288 million units. Single-family production increased 6.5 percent to 872,000 units -- its highest reading in nearly a decade -- while multifamily starts fell 3.7 percent to 416,000 units.
"This month's gain in single-family starts is consistent with rising builder confidence in the housing market," said Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas. "We should see single-family production continue to grow throughout the year, tempered somewhat by supply-side constraints such as access to lots and labor."
"The growth in the single-family arena is very encouraging, but may be partly attributable to unusually warm weather conditions throughout most of the country," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "The modest drop in multifamily starts is in line with our forecast, which calls for this sector to continue to stabilize in 2017."
Regionally in February, combined single- and multifamily housing production rose 35.7 percent in the West. Starts fell by 3.8 percent in the South, 4.6 in the Midwest and 9.8 percent in the Northeast.
A drop in multifamily permits pulled overall permit issuance down 6.2 percent in February. Multifamily permits fell 21.6 percent to 381,000 units, while single-family permits rose 3.1 percent to 832,000 units -- its highest level since September 2007.
Regionally, overall permits rose 25.4 percent in the Midwest. Permits fell 10 percent in the West, 10.4 percent in the South and 22.3 percent in the Northeast.