There should be little doubt that the once white-hot U.S. housing sector is cooling. Last month, starts of privately owned housing were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.933 million units, 8.9% below the revised November rate of 2.121 million units, the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly reported on Jan. 19. Economists generally expected housing starts to be at an annual rate of 2.05 million units in December.
Starts of single-family homes were at an annual rate of 1.577 million units in December, 12.3% below the November rate of 1.798 million units. Starts for buildings with five or more units were at an annual rate 322,000 in December, 11% higher than November's rate of 290,000.
For all of 2005, housing starts totaled 2.065 million, 5.6% above 2004's total of 1.956 million.
Suggesting that the housing market will continue to cool, building permits for privately owned housing were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.068 in December, 4.4% below the November rate of 2.163 million.