U.S. homebuilding is certainly following the advice of the first World Champion sprinter from Saint Kitts and Nevis. With housing starts registering a 699,000 annual rate in January, we’re still a good way from perfection, but continuous improvement is being demonstrated. Also improved were December’s starts, upwardly revised to 689,000. Best of all, the three-month moving average improved to a 697,000 annual rate, a three-year high. And single-family starts are up 16.2% versus a year ago.
New building permits were also up in January 0.7%, to a 676,000 annual rate. Versus a year ago, they’re up 55% for multi-family and up 6.2% for single family homes. Even better, the number of single-family homes under construction was up 2.1% in January, the largest gain since 2004. And there were 119,000 more single-family starts than completions in January, the widest gap in those numbers since the housing boom peak in 2006. Builders clearly are more optimistic.