U.S. housing starts are heading down a treacherous road as are housing completions and building permits. The latest data from the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development shows housing starts in September were down 9.4%. However, the seasonally adjusted annual rate is 1.6% above the September 2018 rate. Homebuilding was at a more than 12-year high in August. Despite the step back, this is the best September data for building permits since 2006.
"All of last month's drop was in multifamily, which likely reflects growing caution on the part of lenders and developers amid slowing job growth and this past summer's inverted yield curve-fueled recession scare," states a release from Wells Fargo Securities. "Multifamily starts have fallen in three of the past four months, with the lone rise coming in August."
Meanwhile, housing completions dropped 9.7% from August, while building permits slipped 2.7%. Single-family housing starts saw a modest increase in September to its second-highest rate this year after January.
Regionally, building permits did not fair well in the Northeast with a more than 25% decline month to month. The Midwest and South also had declines, but it was the West's 10.2% increase that saved some of the data. All four regions are above their September 2018 rate.
-Michael Miller, managing editor