U.S. home starts surge as demand picks up

WASHINGTON — U.S. builders began construction on more single-family homes and apartments in May, encouraged by more buyers and a scarcity of houses for sale.

The overall pace of homes started rose 6.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 914,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That followed a 14.8 percent decline in April. May’s rate is still below March’s pace of more than 1 million — the highest in five years.

Single-family home construction, nearly two-thirds of the market, rose 0.3 percent last month to an annual rate of 599,000. That followed two months of declines.

Apartment construction, which is more volatile, surged 21.6 percent to an annual rate of 315,000. That came after a big drop in April.

Applications for building permits, a gauge of future construction, fell 3.1 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted 974,000, remaining close to a five-year high hit in April.

Overall, the report points to more evidence of a housing recovery that has become sustainable. New-home construction has risen 28.6 percent since May of 2012.

Improved hiring and low mortgage rates have encouraged more people to buy homes. The increased demand, along with a tight supply of homes for sale, has pushed home prices higher.

Stronger housing markets are helping the economy grow and offsetting some of the drag this year from higher taxes and federal spending cuts.

A better outlook for housing has made builders more optimistic, leading to more construction and jobs. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Monday rose to 52 this month, up from 44 in May. That was the highest reading in seven years and the largest monthly increase in more than a decade.

A reading above 50 indicates more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

Still, some markets are recovering faster than others. In May, housing starts rose 17.8 percent in the South and 5.7 percent in the West. But they fell 13.7 percent in the Midwest and 9 percent in the Northeast.

Many of the nation’s major homebuilders have reported strong annual growth in sales during the spring home-selling season. The increased demand has paved the way for builders to raise prices and ramp up construction of more homes, despite lingering concerns over rising costs for land, building materials and labor.

Though new homes represent only a fraction of the housing market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to NAHB statistics.

More in Herald Business Journal

Boeing marks the start of 777X production at Paine Field

It took tax breaks and union concessions to land assembly of the company’s new jetliner in Everett.

Amazon says it received 238 proposals for 2nd headquarters

Forty-three U.S. states, D.C., Puerto Rico, three Mexican states and six Canadian provinces want HQ2.

Amazon leases a southwest Everett warehouse for deliveries

The Seaway Center building is not as big as one of the company’s more typical fulfillment centers.

Health-care consumers need to take the lead, so get smart

David Russian, CEO of Western Washington Medical Group, writes our third essay about fixing health care.

JCPenney partners with EvCC, WSU to assist students

Earlier this month, JCPenney partnered with the Career Service Centers at Everett… Continue reading

Re/Max Elite adds two agents in Lynnwood

Jenelle Dent and Lori DaSilva have joined Re/Max Elite as agents at… Continue reading

Register for Marysville Tulalip Business Before Hours event

The Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce holds its next Business Before… Continue reading

Wells Fargo donates $2,500 to Edmonds Center for the Arts

Edmonds Center for the Arts has received a grant of $2,500 from… Continue reading

More business, more competition for Everett kidney dialysis center

Nonprofit Puget Sound Kidney Centers sees large for-profit competitors enter state market.

Most Read