Housing permits were down 3.9 percent but from a February high not seen since July 2008. The first quarter average was 915000 up 2.6 percent from the fourth quarter. Builders were stock piling permits in February and the inventory of unused permits dropped 9 percent in March as a replacement for drawing more permits. Single-family permits were virtually unchanged so the change was due to a 10 percent drop in apartment permits likely because we are approaching the sustainable level of apartment construction.
Regionally starts were up in all regions except the Northeast which was down 5.8 percent monthly but up 12.6 percent annually. Midwest starts were up 9.6 percent month-to-month and 28.4 percent from March 2012. The South was up 10.9 percent monthly and 58.2 percent annually and the West was up 2.7 percent monthly and 53.7 percent annually.
The mixed results were in line with NAHB expectations for 975000 starts in 2013 or a 25 percent improvement over 2012.
Souce: NAHB blog