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Permits for new residential construction were up +18.8% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.495 million, which was a +9.4% increase from a year before. A +56.7% increase in 5 or more unit buildings centered in the Northeast and the South helped pull overall housing starts up +22.6% for the month to a rate of 1.496 million and a +23.4% yearly increase. Multiple unit residential completions also outpaced single family completions as a +57.7% increase for multiple unit residences offset a -1.8% drop for single family homes, bringing overall residential completions up +3.6% for the month and +1.7% for the year.
Sales of existing homes jumped +24.7% in July, and were up +8.7% for the year, with yearly sales increasing the most for the South (+12.6%), followed by the Midwest (+10.3%), and the West (+7.8%), and falling for the Northeast (-5.9%). The national median sales price was $304,100, up +8.5% for the year, with median prices ranging from a low of $244,500 in the Midwest to a high of $453,800 in the West. Prices were pushed up by a drop in available homes for sale, as inventory fell from a 3.9 month supply at the current rate of sales to a 3.1 month supply, down from 4.2 months one year ago.
The Federal Reserve minutes for its July 28-29 meeting acknowledged recent economic improvements but noted that “the path of the economy would depend on the course of the virus, which was seen as highly uncertain”. Participants estimated that household spending had likely recovered half of its previous decline, but that it had then slowed as the virus spread further. Participants also observed that the recovery in spending was primarily due to goods purchases, and that service spending had not bounced back as strongly. They further noted that: “households’ spending on discretionary services—such as leisure, travel, and hospitality —would likely be subdued for some time and thus would be a factor restraining the pace of recovery.”
Tuesday August 25 – New Home Sales
Wednesday August 26 – Durable Goods Orders