April 6, 2022
By Linda Longo, Managing Editor, Electrical Trends
Electrical distributors who do big business with contractors and electricians in new home construction will struggle through another tumultuous year of trying to satisfy record-setting demand while facing down materials shortages. According to recent housing reports, home buyer demand remains strong, but supply chain troubles are holding back growth.
Nationally the numbers will be challenging while within specific markets there could be growth, but supply chain issues could dominate and prolong residential construction projects.
With builders continuing to report supply chain problems that are causing construction delays, overall housing starts decreased 4.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.64 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. However, in a sign of strong demand, building permits increased at a solid pace in January.
The January reading of 1.64 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this number, single-family starts decreased 5.6% to a 1.12 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, decreased 0.8% to an annualized 522,000 pace.
“The market needs more housing, but chronic production bottlenecks, including ongoing price increases for lumber and OSB, continue to raise housing costs and harm housing affordability,” said Jerry Konter, Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “In fact, the number of single-family homes under construction continues to rise as construction cycle times increase due to delivery delays with building materials.”
“While single-family starts dropped in January, the rise in permits, along with solid builder sentiment as measured in recent monthly surveys, suggest a positive start to the year given the recent rise in mortgage rates,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “The average 30-year mortgage rate increased from 3.1% to a 3.45% from December to January. Fueled by higher mortgage rates and construction costs, declining housing affordability will continue to affect the home building market in 2022.”
On a regional basis compared to the previous month, combined single-family and multifamily starts are 2.6% higher in the Northeast, 37.7% lower in the Midwest, 2.0% lower in the South and 17.7% higher in the West.
Overall permits increased 0.7% to a 1.90 million unit annualized rate in January. Single-family permits increased 6.8% to a 1.21 million unit rate. Multifamily permits decreased 8.3% to an annualized 694,000 pace.
Looking at regional permit data compared to the previous month, permits are 48.3% lower in the Northeast, 0.7% lower in the Midwest, 11.4% higher in the South and 13.9% higher in the West.
There are now 785,000 single-family homes under construction, a 26.8% year-over-year gain. There are 758,000 multifamily units under construction — a 14% gain.