New construction of residential property hit a record low last month, denting belief that a housing recovery was in the works, the Commerce Department said today.
Building permits, which represent new units authorized to be built, fell 3.3 percent to a record low seasonally adjusted annual rate of 494,000 units in April.
Housing starts, which are the actual breaking of ground of new construction, fell 12.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted 458,000 annualized units.
However, much of the weakness was seen in multi-family construction, as single-family starts and permits actually increased month-to-month.
Single-family building permits climbed 3.6 percent from March, while housing starts were up 2.8 percent.
Meanwhile, overall housing completions rose 4.9 percent to 874,000 seasonally annualized units; single family completions were up 0.2 percent from March.
Yesterday, the National Association of Homebuilders said builder confidence for single-family homes improved for the second consecutive month to the highest level since September.
“The fact that the May HMI continued to tick up from April’s five-point increase provides confirming evidence that the improved confidence level was no fluke,” added NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, in a release.
“This continued increase indicates that home builders feel we’re at or near the bottom of the market and that positive signs lie ahead for builders and potential home buyers, provided that builder access to production credit significantly improves.”
A quick car drive around the harder-hit areas of the country paints a different picture; lots of unfinished homes and empty housing tracts next to foreclosure-ridden neighborhoods.