While single-family starts dipped in December due to ongoing supply-side challenges, they still managed to post overall double-digit gains in 2021, rising 13 percent from 2020 to 2021, according to figures reported by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
But, as John Fogerty once put it, there may be a bad moon a-rising.
“The double-digit gain for single-family starts in 2021 was a continuation of the rebound and expansion of home building that took place in the wake of the pandemic,” said NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz. “However, as mortgage interest rates are rising and construction costs increase, affordability headwinds are steepening. NAHB’s outlook for 2022 calls for relatively flat conditions for single-family construction.”
Overall housing starts increased 1.4 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.7 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. That figure is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months.
Within this overall number, single-family starts decreased 2.3 percent to a 1.17 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. The multi-family sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 10.6 percent to a 530,000 pace.
Total housing starts for 2021 were 1.6 million, a 15.6-percent gain over the 1.38 million total from 2020. Single-family starts in 2021 totaled 1.12 million, up 13.4 percent from the previous year, while multi-family starts were up 22.1 percent.
“The price and availability of building materials, and the supply chain in general, remains the most pressing, immediate challenge for builders as they seek to add housing supply,” said Chuck Fowke, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a custom builder from Tampa.
“Policymakers must focus on easing production bottlenecks and eliminating tariffs on Canadian lumber to help address the issues builders are currently facing.”
On a year-to-date basis (January through December of 2021 compared to that same time frame a year ago), combined single-family and multi-family starts are 22.2 percent higher in the Northeast, 10.9 percent higher in the Midwest, 15.3 percent higher in the South and 16.9 percent higher in the West.