Housing production declined in July due to rising prices and limited availability of lumber and other building materials. Overall housing starts decreased 7.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.53 million units, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.
The July reading of 1.53 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts declined 4.5% to a 1.11 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. The three-month moving average (a useful gauge given recent volatility) inched up to 1.12 million starts, as charted below given past month data revisions. Single-family housing starts are up 27.2% on a year-to-date basis; however, the numbers are distorted by the weak readings of the Summer of 2020.
The multifamily sector, which includes for-rent apartment buildings and condos, was down 13.1% at a 423,000 annual rate for 2+ unit construction. After posting a slight decline in 2020, the three-month moving average for multifamily construction has been a solid 469,000 unit annual rate so far in 2021.