New single-family construction spending increased 1.3% on a monthly basis in November at time when overall construction spending remained essentially unchanged, growing just 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted pace of $900.1 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data released Monday.
Of course, that 1.3% monthly increase represents the smallest gain in six months, noted Patrick Newport of IHS Global Insight, but it still translates into a seasonally adjusted pace of $113 billion for the single-family sector. Annually, single-family construction spending is down 25.3% compared to the same month last year.
But that should soon change, according to Newport, who is U.S. economist at the Massachusetts-based research firm. “This report sheds further light on a number of ongoing trends,” he said. “A key one is the turnaround in single-family home construction, which in June 2009 increased for the first time in 40 months and has made solid gains since. … Going forward, single-family starts should continue to improve because inventories of new homes have fallen to their lowest level since 1972, and will require restocking and because the household formation rate will increase as the economy starts adding jobs. Indeed, single-family permits increased 4.5% in November, a sign that single-family starts are likely to improve during December and January.”
Multifamily did not fare so well, posting a 4.1% monthly decline to a seasonally adjusted figure of $23 billion, which is 44.4% below November 2008’s numbers.
“This category … is being hit on two fronts,” Newport asserted, calling the 12-month outlook for multifamily “grim.” “Tight credit and overbuilding are hammering multi-family housing construction, which has nearly ground to a halt. The rental market is also being hurt by falling house prices and the tax credit for first-time home buyers, which is swaying renters into becoming homeowners.”
Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine.