Following an unusual surge in housing starts in November, nationwide housing production fell 9.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 999,000 units in December, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Total housing starts of just under 1 million units in December was the third-highest monthly level of production in 2013," said Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "This rate is in line with our builder surveys, and tells us we are seeing a return to trend after a strong November."
"Last year was a good year for home building, with overall production up 18% from 2012," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "As pent-up demand is unlocked and the labor market improves, we anticipate that 2014 should be an even better year for home construction. That's good news for economic growth, as each new home that is built creates three full-time jobs and contributes to the tax base of local communities."
Single-family housing starts fell 7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 667,000 units in December. Except for November, this was the highest monthly total for single-family starts in 2013. Meanwhile, multifamily starts fell 17.9% to 312,000 units in December.
Regionally in December, combined single- and multifamily housing production rose 15% in the West but fell 33.5% in the Midwest and 12.3 percent in the South. Production was unchanged in the Northeast.
Overall permit issuance fell 3% to 986,000 units in December. Single-family permits dipped 4.8% to 610,000 units from a strong pace the previous month, while multifamily permits were unchanged at 376,000 units.
The Northeast and West posted gains of 11.2% and 10.5% in permitting activity for December, while Midwest and South registered declines of 18.8% and 7.4%, respectively.