U.S. home starts fall 11% in October; builder confidence dips first time in 5 months

Updated Nov 20, 2015

home builder

With the start of construction on both single-family homes and apartment complexes down in October, total U.S. home starts fell 11 percent during the month.

Home starts fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.060 million, according to preliminary data from the Commerce Department. That total is down 1.8 percent over the same time last year.

The new data also revised the September rate downward, from the previously reported 1.206 million to 1.191 million.

Apartment construction starts, which last month were up 30 percent over the year-ago total, fell 26 percent to a rate of 327,000 and are now down 8.4 percent year over year.

Meanwhile, single-family starts fell 2.4 percent to 722,000 and remain up 2.4 percent over October 2014.

Building permits, a good barometer of how the homebuilding industry is trending, rose during October by 4.1 percent to 1.150 million. Permits are up 3 percent above the October 2014 figure.

And for the first time in five months, builder confidence in the market has fallen. November’s National Association Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index fell three points to a 62. Any reading above a 50 indicates most home builders believe market conditions are good.

Despite the drop, NAHB chairman Tom Woods said in a statement that the index’s above-60 rating for the last six months indicates the “single-family housing market is making long-term headway.”

Woods notes that members are still uneasy about the availability of lots and skilled labor.

“A firming economy, continued job creation and affordable mortgage rates should keep housing on an upward trajectory as we approach 2016,” added NAHB chief economist David Crowe.