Housing starts in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,191,000, 4.0% below the revised June estimate of 1,241,000 but 0.6% above the July 2018 rate of 1,184,000, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Single‐family housing starts in July were at a rate of 876,000, 1.3% above the revised June figure of 865,000 and 1.9% ahead of July, 2018. The July rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 303,000.


Building permits in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,336,000, 8.4% above the revised June rate of 1,232,000 and 1.5% above the July 2018 rate of 1,316,000.

Single‐family authorizations in July were at a rate of 838,000, 1.8% above the revised June figure of 823,000 but 3.8% behind a year earlier. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 453,000 in July.

Housing completions in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,250,000, 7.2% above the revised June estimate of 1,166,000 and 6.3% above the July 2018 rate of 1,176,000. Single-family housing completions in July were at a rate of 918,000, 4.3% above the revised June rate of 880,000. The July rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 321,000.

Mike Fratantoni, SVP and chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, analyzed the report.
“The drop in housing starts in July was driven by a sharp 17% decline in multifamily starts – especially in the Northeast. Nationally, single-family starts were up for the month and the year. Yesterday, we reported that applications for the purchase of new homes increased in July, and we anticipate that builders are going to react to this pickup in activity, along with extremely low mortgage rates, by increasing the pace of construction. Permits, which lead starts, were up in July as well, so there is some indication of momentum. However, although builder confidence is high, the number of open construction jobs is also high, and the lack of skilled labor continues to be a constraint on the overall pace of building.”