Housing Starts Surge Due To Rental Housing Construction, Permits Miss Even With Seasonal Distortion

Tyler Durden's picture

On the surface, today's Housing Data was good. Yes, there was a miss in the housing permits number, which declined from a downward revised 939K to 902K, on expectations of a strong 942K print, but let's ignore that: after all bad news is good news (although as the chart below shows even this number was highly skewed due to seasonal adjustments and the NSA number hasn't really budged in the past year). But look at the housing starts: what a whopper: at 1036K, this was the highest print since June 2008 - great news, right? Not really, because the one key indicator here, single-family units, actually posted a sizable drop from 650K in February to 619K in March. The offset: construction starts of multi-family, aka rental units, which in March was a whopping 392K, a 83K seasonally adjusted surge from February, which brings the total multifamily starts to the highest since January 2006 at 423K. Of course, in January 2006, single-family units hit a record 1823K, or about three times as much as the March 2013 number. Thank you Fed and QE for making yet another capital allocation mockery as America is increasingly shifting into a nation of renters. At this pace expect multi-family starts to surpass single unit starts in 4-6 months for the first time ever.

Housing Permits seasonal vs non-seasonally adjusted number:

And Housing Starts: note the single vs multi-family divergence:

Source: Census Dept

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cutefarts's picture

IMF Cuts World Growth Forecast for This Year to 3.3% From 3.5%


orangedrinkandchips's picture

who in THE HELL would want to buy or own a house!!!


fuck that!

disabledvet's picture

You mean "a house inflated by Wall Street ten fold." this ain't the Fed's doing dip shits. They driving up the value of DEBT not land.

orangedrinkandchips's picture

Partly! but very good Disabledvet.....


Thats you are buying this overpriced dirt is just the first part.....


how bout taxes, upkeep, etc. etc. etc. It never ends!!

Osmium's picture

Bought my house and 2 acres of land in 1991 for 55k.  Haven't had a house payment in 10 years.  I'm still a slave to property taxes though :(

akarc's picture

Love the school taxes I pay. Oh wait. I don't have rug rats.

vened's picture

" I'm still a slave to property taxes though"


"How can a man be said to have a country when he has not right of a square inch of it."
Henry George

Ambrose Bierce (The Devil's Dictionary, 1911)
"LAND, n. A part of the earth's surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society.... Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass are enacted wherever property in land is recognized. It follows that if the whole area of terra firma is owned by A, B and C, there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist."


putaipan's picture

+ greenie for any mention of henry george here at zh.

MachoMan's picture

Me?  A few issues: (1) I can't find what I want to rent at a price I can stand; (2) although it is consumptive in nature, I prefer to have brick and mortar in my asset portfolio to paper and counter party risk; (3) credit is cheap and, at present, the interest payments are deductible (presuming that you have more itemized deductions than the standard deduction); (4) there are plenty of other deductions if you're situated to take advantage, e.g. home office, home farm, etc.; and (5) I don't really have the same feeling about a rental as I do my own home, e.g. pride, comfort, security, customizability, etc.

It's pretty common really...  The issue that people ran into with housing was that they got way more housing than they needed...  and, since it's largely a consumptive endeavor, their wants ultimately got the best of them as prices finally went down.  If you don't over extend yourself AND use a portion of it for business and take advantage of all applicable deductions, etc., then it can be something that is not particularly worrisome.

syntaxterror's picture

"Who in THE HELL would want to buy or own a house?"

Apparently the US Government since they own and backstop 90% of the mortgages out there.

azzhatter's picture

The collectivists want us all living together-easier to control. You can snitch on your neighbor easier

DeadFred's picture

When you see all the futuristic flicks with the proles living in squalid warrens, someone had to build those squalid warrens. Stocks probably surged when they did.

Mercury's picture

Or you could check out actual squalid prole warrens created by actual central planners: http://www.kunstler.com/eyesore_201207.html

MiltonFriedmansNightmare's picture

The collectivists want us all living together-  Agenda 21 "Microapartments" are roughly the size of a parking space; bullish for Ikea....just sayin...

ebworthen's picture

Rental units in areas where rents can be raised at will.

Entitlement payments will have to be increased to keep pace.

Dr. Engali's picture

Looks like we are taking a cue from China and building out a bunch of rentals that people can't afford.

fonzannoon's picture

the single family homes will all be owned by foreigners but they will build the apartment complexes right next to the applebee's and target so the rest of us can walk to work. 

Dr. Engali's picture

Fonz...don't ever say that again. If I ever have to work in a restaurant again just friggen shoot me. I spent enough of my early life in that industry. If I am ever in a position that I have to go back then I think I will just be inserted back into the matrix and syphon my existance off of the rest of you.

fonzannoon's picture

I actually considered that if you would believe me....that's why I included Target.

Bearwagon's picture

We'll have you back out of the matrix in no time, don't you worry. You are not in this alone.

akarc's picture

"If I ever have to work in a restaurant again just friggen shoot me."

Ah yes, those were the days. When all I had to worry about was how to get from one week to the next. Whoops, wait a second.....

ebworthen's picture

Some of those in my neck of the woods.

"Luxury" apartments charging 20%-25% over average, place is empty.

I suppose if they can't make the loans for the construction it won't matter, will just be written off or marked to Unicorns like all the empty retail space in town.

akarc's picture

"Luxury" apartments charging 20%-25% over average, place is empty."

Which calls to question I have long had on my mind, how do motels make money? Jesus I pass boo coo no tell motels with vacancy signs and there are usually only enough cars in the parking spots to account for employees. Assuming they drive of course.

Not including those in Biloxi or vegas that make a killing off those who like to throw money away. Jesus, they could do that in the stock market and never have to leave home.


FLUSA.com's picture

Once the hedgefunds get the bulk houses they bought fixed up and on the rental market it will hurt the mf/apartments as people would much rather rent a house then an apartment.  In addition groups are building these apartment and leasing them out only to turn around and sell them at a crazy low cap rate.  Just wait until those rental rates start to drop and the cap rates go to zero or worse in a few years

augustusgloop's picture

hedge fund single family rental scheme is bound to fail. it's the lowest 'tranche' as it were of the rentai biz. property management, repairs/upkeep much more costly on a per unit basis. there is a reason it wasn't done in the past: it doesn't work on a large scale. 



FLUSA.com's picture

The management will be difficult and your right about repairs.  Once they realize this rental plan doesnt work so easily they will dump these home on the market all at once, the danger is they all opporate with group think and that could be a lot of inventory all of a sudden.

booboo's picture

Yes, all wood frame and stucco multi family built by the lowest bidder inspected by the Municiple Inspection Monopoly to meet the MINIMUM code. They rot from the inside out. The owners know just about how long it is before the problems start showing up and sell. I'm trademarking "Krugmanvilles", has to be worth something...right?

edifice's picture

Someone needs to pull an Office Space and create a complex called, "Morning Wood Apartments."

gaoptimize's picture

I'm sure that TPTB consider the increase in multi-unit a win, like increased mass transit usage (miles driven collapsing), and greater Government dependency.  Go long motorcycles and bicycles as workers reduce their suburban commutes and move into appartments closer to their jobs.  Short Lowes/Home Depot?

edifice's picture

In 20 years, most U.S. metro areas will resemble Beijing in the 70s... Lots of bicycles and pedestrian traffic, very little auto traffic.  Conversely, Beijing will be in the opposite situation.

adr's picture

You think that many Americans know how to ride a bicycle?

Ever see a 300lb woman try to get on a Chinese made Schwinn? The frame and spokes colapse in seconds.

Go long splints and neck braces.

Binko's picture

In 20 years Beijing will be a toxic wasteland filled with cancer ridden semi-invalids who need to wear an environmental suit just to go outside. The structure of Chinese society simply isn't equipped to deal with environmental problems.

Adding in the pollution from all the new power plants that are already under construction and from all the new vehicles that will be sold in the next few years will probably push most Chinese urban areas over the edge of livability.

bonzo112358's picture

Us regular Joe's, at least here in socal, are priced out.  The all-cash investor is winning.  Then again, would I really want to pay $1200+/sq ft for a place like this?


Stupid is as stupid does.  And stupid is definitely doing.

Bearwagon's picture

That hut costs so much? Almost unbelievable ....

hangemhigh's picture

@ bonzo

Then again, would I really want to pay $1200+/sq ft for a place like this?

it's not about the money, donny......it's about the lifes tyle......this is lebowski's melrose crib......nice place to pack a bowl and walk your ferret..... 

bonzo112358's picture

You're absolutely right.  It's the 'hey look where I live and you don't' hipster mentality.  The prices out on the westside of Socal are higher than they were in last bubble 5 years ago.  Amazing how soon people forget and think this time it's different.  Visit doctorhousingbubble if you get a chance to enjoy some of the farce that is the Socal housing market and enjoy some of the bullish comments such as my favorite: "houses are selling therefore they are priced right".

billsykes's picture

Don't you know a million is the new 80 grand. 


Here is a million dollar home: http://www.redfin.com/CA/Los-Angeles/1819-Beloit-Ave-90025/home/6757364

the new 80 grand I tells ya. 

ersatzteil's picture

Nonsense! You can live and work in SoCal, just consider taking a longer commute. Sentri Pass, bitchez

186$/sq ft, stone and teak imported from Bali: http://www.bajaonlinerealty.com/Listing/ViewListingPhotos.aspx?ListingID=36020203&ShowCompact=false&Preview=false&new=false&LastTabIndex=-1&BackEmailID=-1&BackEmailTypeID=NONE

dryam's picture

Weird, all I read in the headlines of several news sites was that housing starts were way up & the economy is clipping along at a grand pace.

The Invisible Foot's picture

Will be living in a apartment soon near you.

arm50's picture

they have to build all those dorm rooms

edifice's picture

Houses are undervalued.  Use FRED and enter these criteria:


Q1 2000 = 100

Mercury's picture

That all depends on what the rules are (will be) and what your cost of carry is (will be).

Mercury's picture

At this pace expect multi-family starts to surpass single unit starts in 4-6 months for the first time ever.

Followed closely by federal rent control.

MiltonFriedmansNightmare's picture

Rent control?  Have you forgotten that the US is a fascist, not a socialist state?

MachoMan's picture

True, but what will happen is that the government will both subsidize the monthly payments (paying them on the tenants' behalf) AND cap the amount it's willing to pay...  think medicaid.  So the investors get a guaranteed nominal income stream and J6P gets a house...

[so long as the other tax mules keep trotting]

Mercury's picture

So, not a quacking, waddling aquatic bird but a duck?

Son of Loki's picture

Renting is still super cheap in my area. House prices are moving sideways since Christmas and a little down in some palce. Issue is, taxes (esp school taxes) are soaring to pay for things like extra security. Insurance and maintenace are seriously rising. For now, renting is still so cheap and gives you lots of flexibility to move when and where you are needed or want to go. Selling a house is a B*tch---commissions, fees, etc are about 10% of the seling price.