Another Good Month for Housing Starts

A home for sale in February in San Anselmo, Calif.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Another month of good news on the housing-starts front. New permits for February were up 33.8 percent year-on-year, and new starts (a noisier data series that I like less) were up 27.7 percent year-on-year. Permits continue to exceed starts, seeming to offer indication of momentum built into the system. More than a third of the newly permitted units are in multifamily structures, which is consistent with the new shape of housing finance in the United States. The country still ought to do a lot more to expand the range of terrain on which it is legal to build multifamily structures. As people continue to yammer about tax rates and “uncertainty,” I think this continues to be the No. 1 supply-side issue that would have a meaningful impact on the short-term economic outlook.