Housing Starts, Permits Unimpressive, Saved By "South" Surge

There was little excitement in today's November housing starts and permits numbers, the first of which missed expectations of 872K modestly, and was down from 894K to 861K on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis (64.6K unadjusted, non-annualized, the lowest since March; the Northeast unadjusted print was 25% lower than a year ago!). The prior two months were also revised lower from from 863K and 894K to 843K and 888K. On the other hand, permits which are nothing more than an opportunity cost fee for an application filed with the local housing office, rose from 868K to 899K. Curiously enough, this was the one series that was supposed to benefit from Sandy, as builders would step up reconstruction efforts in the hurricane impact areas. Alas, that did not happen, in the impacted Northeast Region, as both Starts (73K) and Permits (76K) came at multi month lows (in the case of permits, this was the lowest print of all of 2012). What did drive housing starts and permits? The "South" where both categories saw the respective data prints jump to the highest since 2008. The same south which was promptly featured in our "Interactive Guide to the Housing Recovery." The housing bubble is back in full force.

Chart showing housing starts and completions with a 6 month lag:


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