Slow Southern Sales Pull Housing Starts Down 9.3%

Housing starts plummeted 9.3% for June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 893,000, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens a PDF) released Thursday. After clocking in at 985,000 in May, this latest report is the lowest annual rate reported since last September. Analysts were less than elated by Thursday's numbers, having expected an increase to a 1,026,000 rate. 

Source: Census.gov ; Housing Starts Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate

In a sign of some interstate hope, June's disappointing drop wasn't nationwide. Every region experienced a month-to-month increase in housing starts, except the South. Southerners saw a whopping 29.6% drop in starts from May to June, the largest-ever monthly decline for the region.

Unfortunately, declines in housing permits and completions were generally more widespread. Housing permits fell 4.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,005,000, while housing completions finished off the month down 12% at a 897,000 rate. 

Over the last year, housing starts have still managed a 7.5% bump, with permits up 2.7% and completions up 3.4%. 

Thursday's news comes a day after a July report revealed that homebuilders are more optimistic than not for the first time since January, sending mixed messages about the housing market's future.

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