Total housing starts increased 3.2% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.37 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department. The November reading of 1.37 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts increased 2.4% to a 938,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate off downwardly revised estimates for recent months. The multi-family sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 4.9% to a 427,000 pace.

“Market conditions for single-family starts are positive, given a lack of resale inventory, low interest rates and a solid job market,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Builder confidence points to additional gains as we look forward.”

“Since the rebound in housing took hold earlier this year, single-family starts have posted a steady improvement in the pace of construction,” said Robert Dietz, the NAHB’s chief economist. “Under the current estimates, the 2019 year-to-date total for single-family construction is just 0.4 percent lower than the 2018 sum and is on pace to come in relatively flat for the year.”

On a regional and year-to-date basis, combined single- and multi-family starts in November are 0.9% higher in the Northeast and 7.4% higher in the South. Starts are down 5.8% in the Midwest and 8.7% in the West.

Overall permits, which are a harbinger of future housing production, increased 1.4% to a 1.48 million unit annualized rate in November. Single-family permits inched up 0.8% to a 918,000 rate, while multi9family permits increased 2.5% to a 564,000 pace.

Looking at regional permit data on a year-to-date basis, permits are 11.6% higher in the Northeast and 4.8% higher in the South. Permits are down 3.3% in the Midwest and 0.6% in the West.

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