A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that privately-owned housing starts in September grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 1.127 million units. That was a 4.7 percent decrease from August’s upward-revised print, the third monthly decline in a row, and worse than economists had anticipated. Weakness could be seen in both single-family and multi-family (rental) housing starts last month, and single-family starts fell the most in the southern region of the country (-15.3 percent).
All of this suggests that hurricanes Harvey and Irma provided a major headwind for the U.S. housing market in September. Looking ahead, though, new data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) showed that homebuilder confidence has already started to rebound. Specifically, the popular sentiment index jumped this month to its highest reading since May, including solid gains in respondents’ views of sales conditions and prospective buyer traffic. However, NAHB chairman Granger MacDonald cautioned that “builders need to be mindful of long-term repercussions from the storms, such as intensified material price increases and labor shortages.”
Sources: Econoday, NAHB, U.S. Census Bureau, FRBSLPost author: Charles Couch