US Total and 1-Unit Housing Starts Dec 2020 & Benchmark Softwood Lumber Prices Jan 2021
- Single-family housing permits rose +7.8% to a 1.23 million pace, the fastest since 2006
- Construction climbed in three of four regions, led by a +32% surge in the Midwest, with starts in the Northeast seeing the lone decline
- The total number of residential projects authorized but not yet started edged lower to 185,000, but remains historically strong, suggesting builder backlog remains robust
The median sales price of a previously owned single-family house in the U.S. reached US$314,300 in December, up +93% in 11 years.
US National Association of Realtors
Total residential starts in the US for December 2020 climbed by +5.8% to a 1.67 million annualized rate. Permits for future homebuilding accelerated +4.5% to a rate of 1.709 million units, in December, and totalled 1.452 million for full-year 2020. This is a +4.8% increase from 2019.
December starts of single-family housing, the largest share of the market and construction which uses the most wood, climbed +12% to a 1.34 million pace. It was the eighth straight monthly increase, the longest such stretch in 50 years. Single-family building permits raced up +7.8% to a rate of 1.226 million units in December.
Homebuilding is being supported by lean inventories, especially for previously owned homes.
As January 2021 marched on, lumber prices corrected downward somewhat from the unseasonal increase for the first week of the year. In the week ending January 22, 2021, the price of benchmark softwood lumber commodity item Western S-P-F KD 2×4 #2&Btr dropped by -$50, or -5.6%, to US$894 mfbm, from $944 the previous week. Last week’s price is +$20, or +2.3%, more than it was one month ago when it was $874.
Full-year 2020 saw a total of 1.38 million starts, with single-family construction climbing to 991,200, both the highest since the mid-2000s, according to the US Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.