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Jan.: Housing Starts Down, Building Permits Up

While the number of housing starts declined 4.1% compared to Dec., the number of building permits – indicators of future housing-start numbers – rose 0.7%.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The number of U.S. housing starts declined in January, according to a joint release by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, the number of building permits – an indication of future housing-start numbers – rose both month-to-month and year-to-year.

Housing starts: Privately-owned housing starts in January, a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.64 million, fell 4.1% compared to December numbers. However, they’re up year-to-year by 0.8%.

Permits for single-family homes weighed more heavily in the overall number. At a rate of 1,116,000, single-family starts fell 5.6% below December numbers.

Building permits: Economists consider building permits an estimate of future housing starts, and January numbers were up a bit both month-to-month (0.7%) and year-to-year (0.8%).

The number of single-family permits issued in January rose to 1.2 million, or 6.8% about December numbers.

Many experts aren’t ready to draw conclusions from recent data. The January drop in housing starts could reflect a number of temporary headwinds, such as slowdowns due to the omicron variant of COVID-19, and it could reflect supply-side shortages that have postponed some projects months longer than first estimated.

According to MarketWatch, the number of home completions dropped in January, but “the number of homes under construction rose – a sign of the impact of these supply backlogs.”

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