U.S. homebuilding fell to a nine-month low in June and permits declined for a third straight month, dealing a blow to the housing market as it struggles with an acute shortage of properties available for sale.
As Reuters reports, housing starts tumbled 12.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.173 million units last month, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. That was the lowest level since September 2017.
The percent drop was the biggest since November 2016. Data for May was revised down to show starts rising at a 1.337 million-unit rate instead of the previously reported 1.350 million-unit rate. Starts fell in all four regions last month.
Building permits dropped 2.2% to a rate of 1.273 million units, also the lowest level since September 2017.
Although Louisiana’s June numbers have yet to be released, the state has thus far bucked the national trend, with building permits on the rise and outpacing much of the nation and its region. In May 1,655 building permits were issued in Louisiana, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau released in late June. That’s a 19% increase over the same month last year. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts falling to a pace of 1.320 million units last month and permits rising to a rate of 1.330 million units.
Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, decreased 9.1% to a rate of 858,000 units last month. Single-family homebuilding has lost momentum since hitting a pace of 948,000 units last November, which was the strongest in more than 10 years.
A survey on Tuesday showed confidence among single-family homebuilders remains unchanged in July, with builders continuing to be “burdened by rising construction material costs.”