The Week Ahead: Will Housing Starts, Permits Rebound?

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The U.S. Census Bureau will release its latest number surrounding housing starts, permits, and completions for April. 

Numbers last month for March found housing data fell off the cliff. 

Housing permits fell 6.8% from February to 1.35 million, housing completions were down 6.1% monthly to 1.22 million, and housing starts recorded a 22.3% decline from February to 1.21 million. 

Every region in the nation posted declines in permits, with the largest drop being the 12.7% drop in the midwest. The northeast posted a 32.5% decline in housing starts from February to March. 

Realtor.com’s Senior Economist George Ratiu said the COVID-19 pandemic expands in the U.S., “economic activity has been encased in a block of ice.” 

“With consumers confined at home in most states, housing markets are feeling the chill,” he said. 

Odeta Kushi, First American’s Deputy Chief Economist Odeta Kushi said the recent National Association of Homebuilders homebuilder survey posted its largest one-month decline on record, as all three components fell: expected future sales, present sales, and buyer traffic.

“Prior to the pandemic, builders were already faced with several supply-side headwinds: increasing material costs, a chronic lack of construction workers, a dearth of buildable lots, and restrictive regulatory requirements in many markets,” Kushi said. 

Kushi added builders must also grapple with temporarily reduced demand from a struggling labor market and shelter-in-place orders. 

“March’s housing starts data reveals the early signs of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the new home market and confirms the hesitancy on the part of builders, as housing permits, starts, and completions fell on a month-over-month basis,” she said. 

Also coming this week are more exclusive interviews from DS5: Inside the Industry. On Wednesday, hear insight from Matthew Freeman, co-author of “Overcoming Bias” and Friday’s episode will feature Charmaine Brown, a diversity and inclusion expert and Senior Consultant for Alignment Strategies.

Here’s what else is happening in The Week Ahead:

DS5: Inside the Industry videos (May 18, 20, 22)

National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales (May 21) 

Treasury, Fed Update to Congress on CARES Act (May 18) 

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