Housing Starts End Year Up Nearly 11%

January 21, 2016

The new-home market ended 2015 on a positive note, zooming ahead 10.8 year-over-year and setting the stage for a brighter sector in 2016. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that housing starts nationwide rose to 1.11 million units last year, with single-family starts posting a yearly gain of 10.4 percent to 715,000 units.

"These numbers are in line with what our members are telling us that housing markets are improving, but lot and labor shortages continue to be a problem for many builders," says Tom Woods, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

Last month, single-family starts dropped 3.3 percent to 768,000 units, the second highest monthly total for single-family housing starts last year. Multifamily starts, on the other hand, dropped 1 percent to 381,000 units in December.

"The gradual increase in housing production for 2015 mirrors our forecast and sets the stage for continued growth in 2016," says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Strong job growth, rising consumer confidence and pent-up demand will keep housing on an upward trend."

The largest gains in housing starts were in the Northeast, jumping 24.4 percent month-over-month. Housing starts dropped last month in the Midwest, by 12.4 percent month-over-month; a 7.6 percent drop in the West; and a 3.3 percent drop in the South.

The future looks promising for increases in the new-home sector. Housing permits – a gauge for future construction – surged 12 percent to 1.178 million units in 2015, with single-family housing permits behind most of that gain posting a 7.9 percent increase.

Source: National Association of Home Builders