The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that privately-owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 897,000. This is 17.0 percent below the revised January estimate of 1,081,000 and is 3.3 percent below the February 2014 rate of 928,000.
Single-family housing starts in February were at a rate of 593,000; this is 14.9 percent below the revised January figure of 697,000. The February rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 297,000.
"This drop is not surprising based on our recent surveys, but our builders continue to show cautious optimism in the months ahead," said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo.
"February's numbers indicate that wavering consumer confidence continues to impact the housing recovery," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Buyers are waiting for a stronger, more reliable economy before making a home purchase, and builders are responding to their reluctance. Even with this month's drop in production, we expect the housing market to move forward this year in step with an improving economy."
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,092,000. This is 3.0 percent above the revised January rate of 1,060,000 and is 7.7 percent above the February 2014 estimate of 1,014,000.
Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 620,000; this is 6.2 percent below the revised January figure of 661,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 445,000 in February.
Regionally, the Midwest, South and West registered permit gains of 6.1 percent, 7.3 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively, while the Northeast posted a 17.4 percent loss.
Privately-owned housing completions in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 850,000. This is 13.8 percent below the revised January estimate of 986,000 and is 1.8 percent below the February 2014 rate of 866,000.