- Apr 24, 2020
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, starts of buildings with five or more units decreased by 17.0 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in February 2020 to 508,000 after a 16.8 percent increase in January. On a year-over-year basis, February starts of buildings with five or more units were 44.3 percent above its February 2019 level.
NAHB’s Multifamily Production Index (MPI) stayed at 49 in the fourth quarter of 2019. The MPI measures builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the multifamily market on a scale of 0 to 100. The index is scaled so that a number above 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are improving than report conditions are getting worse.
CPI vs. Rent:
The headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.1 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis. Over the month of February, the Energy Price Index declined by 2.0 percent, after a 0.7 percent drop in January, while food prices increased by 0.4 percent. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the “core” CPI rose by 0.2 percent in February, after a 0.2 percent increase in January. Shelter prices, which are the largest consumer expenditure category, grew by 0.3 percent as rental prices, a component of the shelter index, climbed by 0.3 percent in February. Since the increase in rental prices was higher than the growth rate in overall inflation, as measured by the “core” CPI, then NAHB’s Real Rent Index rose by 0.1 percent over the month of February. Over the past year, NAHB’s Real Rent Index has risen by 1.4 percent.
Existing Condo Sales and Prices:
Sales of existing condominiums and cooperatives stayed at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 600,000 units in February. Regionally, sales in the Midwest and West grew by 28.6 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively, while sales in the Northeast and South declined 8.3 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively. The months’ supply of homes increased to 3.4 months in February. Over the past year, median prices on condos and co-ops nationwide rose by 7.0 percent to $249,900 in February. Median prices in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West increased by 10.0 percent, 1.8 percent, 8.4 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.
The price of inputs to construction industries rose by 1.6 percent on a not seasonally adjusted basis over the past 12 months ending in February. This component of the Producer Price Index is composed of the price of inputs to new construction and the price of maintenance and repairs. Over the past year, the price of inputs to new construction increased by 1.6 percent. The price of inputs to new non-residential construction climbed by 1.4 percent while the price of inputs to new residential construction rose by 1.6 percent. The price of maintenance and repairs construction grew by 1.6 percent over the past year. The price of inputs to non-residential maintenance and repairs increased by 1.4 percent while the price of inputs to residential maintenance grew by 1.5 percent over the past year. Meanwhile, the price of cement rose by 0.8 percent. Gypsum prices decreased by 1.4 percent and the price of softwood plywood fell by 13.4 percent over the past 12 months.
Fan-Yu Kuo is an Economist at NAHB where she conducts economic research related to macroeconomics and forecasting. She also assists in economic and housing data updates. Prior to NAHB, Fan-Yu was a Research Assistant at the Academia Sinica. She holds an M.A. in International Economics and Finance from Johns Hopkins University and another M.A. in International Political Economy from King’s College London.