Housing Starts in U.S. Decline for 3rd Straight Month

U.S. home building fell for a third straight month in July amid a steep decline in the construction of multi-family housing units, but a jump in permits to a seven-month high offered hope for the struggling housing market.

Figures released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department showed housing starts dropped 4.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.191 million units last month. Home building was likely disrupted by Tropical Storm Barry, which drenched Louisiana in the middle of July.

Data for June was revised down to show home building falling to a pace of 1.241 million units, instead of dropping to a rate of 1.253 million units as previously reported.

Economists had forecast housing starts would edge up to about 1.257 million units in July.

The housing market has not benefited much from declining mortgage rates because of land and labour shortages, which are constraining builders’ ability to construct sought-after lower-priced homes. That has left the housing market continuing to grapple with tight inventory and sluggish sales growth.