Despite ongoing shortages of both labor and materials, U.S. housing starts raced to an eight-month high in November, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.68 million units, up 11.8% from October’s downwardly revised estimate and up 8.3% from the pace set in November 2020. Homebuilding activities also surpassed economists’ estimates, with experts polled by Reuters calling for a pace of 1.568 million units.
Both single-family and multifamily starts enjoyed double-digit percentage gains in November. Single-family starts were up 11.3% from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million units while multifamily starts were up 12.9% monthly to an annualized rate of 506,000 units.
Single-family starts, in particular, have gained steam as the year has drawn to a close, said Chuck Fowke, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
“Single-family housing starts accelerated near the end of 2021 and are up 15.2% year to date as demand for new construction remains strong due to a lean inventory of resale housing,” Fowke said. “Policymakers need to help alleviate ongoing building-material supply chain bottlenecks that are preventing builders from keeping up with buyer demand.”
“Breaking an eight-year trend, in recent months there have been more single-family homes under construction than multifamily units,” added Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist. “Moreover, despite some cooling earlier this year, the continued strength of single-family construction in 2021 means there are now 28% more single-family homes under construction than a year ago.
“These gains mean single-family completions will increase in 2022, bringing more inventory to market despite a 19% year-over-year rise in construction material costs and longer construction times.”