The Department of Commerce released data today on housing starts, showing a housing market that, despite some low numbers, is showing signs of improvement.
Overall, 604,000 homes were started in July, a decrease of 1.5 percent from June. The main factor contributing to the lackluster numbers was single-family home starts, which were down 5 percent. In addition, building permits, a reliable gauge for future construction projects, were down 3.2 percent.
Patrick Newport, an economist with IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass., explained to Bloomberg that the job market, foreclosures and low home prices are primarily responsible for lower housing starts. “Demand for new homes is extremely weak and the foreclosure pipeline is still high. It’s because of the weak economy, weak job growth and falling home prices.”
However, not all of the news in the Commerce Department’s report was bad. Apartment starts increased by 6 percent since July, while multi-family housing starts rose by 7.8 percent. As Reuters reported, the data suggests that lower home values are persuading families to rent – rather than own – properties.
And, regardless of July’s numbers in relation to June, they represent a substantial improvement from 2010. Compared to July last year, residential construction is up by 9.8 percent.