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The Week Ahead: Can Housing Starts Rebound?

The U.S. Census Bureau will release its latest stats surrounding housing starts and permits on Wednesday. 

The Bureau reported last month that April saw housing permits fall by 20.8%; housing starts declined by 30.2%; and completions fell by 8.1% for the month.

Housing starts fell 43.6% in the northeast month-over-month and the west reported a 43.4% decline from March. The number of homes completed fell annually by 11.8%. 

Holden Lewis, Home and Mortgage Specialist at NerdWallet, said April’s drop is associated with the uncertainty of whether or not buyers will return to the market later this year. 

“On top of that, they have to guess about the availability of construction workers in the next few months. This will exacerbate the housing shortage that many places suffer from. With fewer houses being built, there will be less opportunity for today's homeowners to move up and sell to first-time buyers,” he said. 

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American Financial Corporation, said April’s housing data reflects the “depth and severity” of an economy put into a “medically-induced coma.” 

“Housing starts data is no exception, as permits, starts, and completions fell by double digits relative to one year ago,” Kushi said. “Today’s numbers indicate less supply may be on the market to meet a late-blooming home-buying season.”

The lone bright spot is that homebuilder confidence increased in May after April’s record-breaking decline. Builders, Kushi said, are responding to low mortgage rates and a rise in purchase applications, possibly indicating potential home buyers are back in the market to buy.  

“Looking ahead, housing starts are a strong indicator of future demand because homebuilders are reluctant to break ground on new projects if they fear there will be no one there to buy it. All signs in the housing market are pointing to a rebound, and monitoring home builder activity will be key to gauging the recovery: if you’ll buy it, they will build it,” she said. 

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.
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