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The U.S. Census Bureau reported housing starts dropped 9.6%  to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.446M units in July, the lowest level since February 2021. The data for June was revised up to 1.599M units from the previously reported 1.559M units. Single-family housing starts, which account for the majority share of homebuilding, fell 10.1% to a rate of 916K units, the lowest level since June 2020. Starts for housing projects with five units or more also dropped, declining 10% to a rate of 514K units. New residential building permits, a proxy for future construction, fell 1.3% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.674M units. New residential building permits are running 1.1% above their July 2021 level. Single-family permits were down 4.3% from June’s revised 970K, while multifamily permits increased 2.5% to 693K. Building permits saw increases in the Northeast (+9.3%) and Midwest (+8.1%), while the West (-12.0%) and South (-0.1%) saw declines. Single-family housing completions came in at 1.009M, 0.8% below June’s revised reading. Multifamily completions were up 6.7% to 412K. The number of houses approved for construction but not yet started increased 5.0% to 296K units, with the backlog for single-family housing increasing 2.1% to 146K.
The Commerce Department reported advance U.S. retail and food services sales were little changed  at $682.8B in July, this follows a downwardly revised 0.8% gain in June. Retail sales are up 10.3% year over year. Total sales for May 2022 through July 2022 were up 9.2% year over year. A drop in sales at service stations (-1.8%) and at auto dealerships (-1.6%.) couldn’t offset increases coming from internet (+2.7%), miscellaneous retailers (+1.5%), building supplies (+1.5%), electronics (+.0.4%), and home furnishings (+0.2%). In addition, sales declined in department stores (-0.5%) and clothing stores (-0.6%). When sales for gas stations and autos are excluded, retail sales increased 0.7%. Core retail sales, a measurement that excludes spending on autos, gasoline, building materials, and food services increased 0.8% in July. June’s core retail sales were revised to show sales increasing 0.7% instead of 0.8%.
The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes fell 5.9%  in July to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.81M, down 20.2% as compared to July 2021, and a new low since May of 2020. Home sales have now dropped for six consecutive months. In a statement, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said “We’re witnessing a housing recession in terms of declining home sales and home building; however, it’s not a recession in home prices,” Sales of single-family homes fell to a 4.31M annual rate (-19.0% Y/Y) and existing condo sales dropped to a 500K annual rate (-29.6% Y/Y). Total housing inventory reported in at 1.31M, up 4.8% from June’s inventory (unchanged Y/Y). Unsold inventory is at a 3.3-month supply, up from 2.9 months in June, and 2.6 months in July 2021. Properties typically remained on the market for 14 days in July, the same as in June and down from 17 days in July 2021. Eighty-two percent of the homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month. The median sales price of an existing home sold in July dropped to $403,800 (+10.8%Y/Y), down from the record $413,800 set in June. The median existing single-family home price was $410,600 in July (+10.6% Y/Y) while the median existing condo price was $245,900 (+9.9% Y/Y). Existing-home sales declined in all regions led by the West (-9.4%), followed by the Northeast (-7.5%), South (-5.2%), and Midwest (-3.3%).
Upcoming Economic Reports:
Tuesday August 23 – New Homes Sales (July)
Wednesday August 24 – Core Durable Goods Orders (Mom) (July)