Single-family housing starts plummeted to a one-year low in May, just 30 days after soaring to a 20-month high. It’s no wonder home builders are confused.
Against a revised April figure, Housing Starts fell 97,000 units in May, a figure representing almost one-fifth of the total market size.
It’s the worst showing for Housing Starts since May 2009, a surprise to builders and economists alike.
Furthermore, single-family Building Permits plunged in May, too — down 10 percent from April. A permit is a certification from local government that authorizes home construction.
Housing permits are a precursor to Housing Starts with 82% of homes starting construction within 60 days of permit-issuance. Fewer permits, therefore, directly reduces the number of new homes coming to market in the coming months.
For home buyers , this should create a sense of urgency.
Home prices are based on supply and demand and supply appears to be falling about the same time that economists predict a surge in home demand. It could spell rising home prices and a complete loss of negotiation power with home sellers.
For now, though, home affordability remains high with properties cheap and mortgage rates near all-time lows. If you plan to buy a home later this year, the May 2010 Housing Starts data may be a reason to move up your timeframe a bit.