Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, dropped 0.4 percent to a rate of 785,000 units in March, the lowest level since September 2016, while starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment were unchanged at a rate of 354,00 units. The biggest declines in housing starts were recorded in the the Midwest (-17.6 percent to 131 thouand), South (-7.2 percent to 604 thousand), and Northeast (-4.4 percent to 86 thousand) while advanced in the West (31.4 percent to 318 thousand). The sharp drop in the Midwest likely reflected flooding in the region. Starts for February were revised to 1,142 thousand from 1,162 thousand.
Building permits fell 1.7 percent from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,269 thousand in March,
the lowest since October of 2018 and compared with market expectations of a 0.3 percent gain to 1,300 thousand. Single-family authorizations decreased 1.1 percent to 808 thousand and the volatile multi-family housing segment dropped 2.7 percent to 461 thousand. Across regions, permits declined in the Northeast (-9.6 percent to 122 thousand); Midwest (-3.6 percent to 185 thousand) and in the South (-4.6 percent to 644 thousand), but rose in the West (10 percent to 318 thousand). Permits for February were revised to 1,291 thousand from 1,296 thousand.
Year-on-year, housing starts went down 14.2 percent and building permits dropped 7.8 percent.