Home starts dip, as builder confidence is shaken by recent storms

Updated Sep 21, 2017

House Home Construction Site Prep

The start of construction on new homes in the U.S. fell 0.8 percent during the month of August due to a decrease in multi-family starts. Meanwhile, single-family starts are approaching a 20 percent year-over-year improvement.

Despite the strength in single-family, the NAHB reports that builder confidence has fallen due to uncertainty caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Home starts rose to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.18 million homes in August, a 1.4-percent improvement over August 2016, according to preliminary data from the Commerce Department.

Single-family home starts rose 1.6 percent during the month to a rate of 851,000. Single-family starts are up 17.1 percent from their year ago figure.

Multi-family starts fell 5.8 percent to a rate of 323,000 but have sunk 23 percent since August 2016.

Building permits, a good barometer of where the housing market is moving, rose 5.7 percent in August to a rate of 1.3 million and are up 8.3 percent from the August 2016 rate.

Builder confidence in the housing market fell slightly according to the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Builder confidence fell three points to a 64. Any reading above a 50 indicates most home builders believe market conditions are good.

“The recent hurricanes have intensified our members’ concerns about the availability of labor and the cost of building materials,” NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald says. “Once the rebuilding process is underway, I expect builder confidence will return to the high levels we saw this spring.”

“Despite this month’s drop, builder confidence is still on very firm ground,” says NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “With ongoing job creation, economic growth and rising consumer confidence, we should see the housing market continue to recover at a gradual, steady pace throughout the rest of the year.”