Housing starts in the United States fell in January for the first time in five months, indicating that rising residential real estate prices could limit buyer demand.
Residential starts fell 6% from the previous month to an annualized rate of 1.58 million, according to government data released Thursday, February 18. The median of a Bloomberg survey of economists had called for a decline to an annualized rate of 1.66 million.
The figures suggest that record prices may weigh on affordability and limit future growth in the housing market. Still, housing starts remain above pre-pandemic levels thanks to the Federal Reserve’s super-easy monetary policy that has pushed mortgage rates to historically low levels and spiked demand.
Single-family housing starts, which were at their highest since 2006 at the end of last year, fell 12.2% to a pace of 1.16 million. Multi-family housing starts, which tend to be volatile, jumped 17.1% to a pace of 418,000, the fastest since July.
A measure of confidence among US homebuilders improved slightly in February amid strong demand, even as rising construction costs linked to wood costs threatened to slow demand, a report showed on Wednesday. of the National Association of Home Builders.
Although housing has been strong, the labor market has struggled to recover. A separate government report on Thursday showed the state’s initial unemployment benefit filings rose to 861,000, worse than expected.
January data on existing home sales, which rose unexpectedly in December, will be released by the National Association of Realtors on Friday.
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