MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY
Housing starts rise 6.8 percent in February and 22.3 percent year-on-year
Privately‐owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,769,000. This is 6.8 percent above the revised January estimate of 1,657,000 and is 22.3 percent above the February 2021 rate of 1,447,000. Single‐family housing starts in February were at a rate of 1,215,000; this is 5.7 percent above the revised January figure of 1,150,000.
Building permits slip 1.9 percent in February, but up 7.7 percent year-on-year
Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,859,000. This is 1.9 percent below the revised January rate of 1,895,000, but is 7.7 percent above the February 2021 rate of 1,726,000. Single‐family authorizations in February were at a rate of 1,207,000; this is 0.5 percent below the revised January figure of 1,213,000.
New home purchase mortgage applications fall 1.0 percent in February and 3.9 percent year-on-year
Mortgage applications for new home purchases decreased 3.9 percent in February compared from a year ago. Compared to January 2022, applications decreased by 1 percent. Over the last three months, mortgage rates have increased over 70 basis points, and combined with elevated sales prices, that is putting a weight on purchase activity. The decline in activity was also consistent with somewhat weaker homebuilder sentiment and increased uncertainty for the industry as the crisis in Ukraine has worsened the situation for building material prices and availability.
Purchase loan apps up 2 percent from previous week but down 8 percent year-on-year
The Market Composite Index decreased 1.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with purchase loans rising 2 percent (but down 8 percent year-on-year) and refinance activity falling 3 percent (and down 49 percent year-on-year). The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.27 percent from 4.09 percent.