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Single-Family Starts Flat in September, but up 20 Percent Year-to-Date

Single-family housing production held steady in September as strong demand helped to offset ongoing building material supply chain disruptions. Meanwhile, declines in multifamily production helped to push overall housing starts in September down 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.56 million, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The September reading of 1.56 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts were essentially unchanged from the previous month at a 1.08 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, and are up 20.5 percent year-to-date. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, decreased 5 percent to a 475,000 pace.

"Single-family construction continued along recent, more sustainable trends in September," says Chuck Fowke, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. "Lumber prices have moved off recent lows, but the cost and availability of many building materials continues to be a challenge for a market that still lacks inventory. Policymakers should continue to work to improve supply-chains."

"Builder confidence increased in October, which confirms stabilization of home construction at current levels," says Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist. "The number of single-family units in the construction pipeline is 712,000, almost 31 percent higher than a year ago as more inventory is headed to market. Multifamily construction has expanded as well, with almost a 6 percent year-over-year gain for apartments currently under construction."

Overall permits decreased 7.7 percent to a 1.59 million unit annualized rate in September. Single-family permits decreased 0.9 percent to a 1.04 million unit rate. Multifamily permits decreased 18.3 percent to a 548,000 pace.