U.S. Housing Starts Fall on Retreat in Apartment Building

U.S. Housing Starts Fall on Retreat in Apartment Construction

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. new-home construction declined in April as fewer starts of apartment projects outweighed a modest improvement in single-family structures, government figures showed Wednesday.

Highlights of Housing Starts (April)

  • Residential starts fell 3.7% to a 1.29 mln annualized rate (est. 1.31 mln) after revised 1.34 mln pace in prior month
  • Multifamily home starts slumped 11.3% after a 13.6 percent March increase; single-family rose 0.1%
  • Permits, a proxy for future construction of all types of homes, fell 1.8% to 1.35 mln rate (matching est.) 
  • Report included revisions to housing starts dating back to 2013 and building permits to 2012.

Key Takeaways

Stable single-family starts and an increase in the number of homes authorized but not yet started underscore a pace of residential construction that will probably support economic growth as homebuilders remain upbeat about the market’s progress.

Builder optimism has its roots in solid sales that are being bolstered by resilient hiring and larger take-home pay following federal government tax cuts.

While demand and homebuilding remain solid, the industry is not without its challenges. Construction companies cite a shortage of workers, rising costs for lumber and other building materials and a scarcity of available lots on which to start new projects. Affordability is also becoming a bigger issue as gains in property values outpace income growth and interest rates rise.

The report showed 163,000 homes were authorized for construction in April but not yet started, up 14 percent from 143,000 a year ago and indicating a steady pace of homebuilding in coming months.

U.S. Housing Starts Fall on Retreat in Apartment Building

Other Details

  • Three of four regions posted declines in starts, led by a 16.3 percent decrease in the Midwest and a 12 percent drop in the West
  • Construction climbed 6.4 percent in the South, reflecting the fastest pace of single-family starts since July 2007
  • Report released jointly by the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington

--With assistance from Chris Middleton.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katia Dmitrieva in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Scott Lanman at, Vince Golle

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