Housing starts thaw, mortgage rates stand pat

April 16, 2015
WASHINGTON (4/17/15)--Housing starts rebounded in March, but not nearly enough to reverse the losses seen over the past four months, according to numbers released by the Census Bureau Thursday.

Driven by single-family homes, housing starts rose by 2% from February, but sit 2.5% below levels seen last year at this time ( April 16).

Single-family starts climbed 4.4% for the month, but still fall 2.7% behind last year's pace, while multifamily starts dropped by 7.1% from February, and are down 4.7% on an annual basis.

"Although residential construction has started to regain some of the activity that was delayed by the winter snowstorms, the overall trend is still disappointing," said Andres Carbacho-Burgos, Moody's analyst ( "Multifamily permits and starts have regained their prerecession volume, but have leveled off and are even momentarily declining as builders wait for newly built apartments to be absorbed before starting new projects."

Housing permits were also mixed during the month.

Total housing permits fell 5.7% in March, but detached single-family homes experienced an increase of 2.1% from February, and sit 4.1% higher year-over-year.

Two- to four-unit structure permits plunged by 13.8% during the month however, as did structures with five or more units, by 16%.

Mortgage rates, meanwhile, inched up last week, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate climbing to 3.67% from 3.66%, according to Freddie Mac (MarketWatch April 16).

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rate edged up to 2.94% from 2.93%, while the five-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage rate climbed to 2.88% from 2.83%.