Amidst Economic Uncertainty, Housing Activity Rises Notably in September

The September BuildFax Housing Health Report (BHHR) revealed a notable increase in new and existing housing construction after almost a full year of slowing housing activity. This month, single-family housing authorizations rose month over month to recent highs.

Meanwhile, maintenance volumes made significant ground, in comparison to the more gradual increases this category experienced in July and August. This is also evident in a metro-level analysis of housing activity, which reflects shifts in the larger market.

New and Existing Housing Supply

The rate of new construction is still shy of 2018’s rapid pace, but month-over-month increases suggest lower mortgage rates could be providing a boost to the market.

New and Existing Housing Supply Activity, September 2019

  • Single-family housing authorization volumes decreased 0.13 percent year over year.
  • Existing housing maintenance volume increased 5.54 percent year over year.
  • Existing housing remodel volume increased 7.22 percent year over year. 

Metro-Level Housing Activity Reflects Shifts in the National Market

Similarly, on a national scale, maintenance activity is strong in a majority of the top 10 most populous metros. However, new construction is still somewhat sluggish. The rate of both new and existing construction increased in just three metros in September: New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.

New York experienced the greatest increase in new construction activity, on a trailing 12-month basis,

rising 44.25% year over year. Increases in these new construction rises may be attributed, in part, to the April announcement of the modified Mansion Tax, which applies tiered, increasing tax rates for homes above $1 million and rises progressively from there. Since the announcement, home sales – in addition to new construction activity – has increased substantially in the metro. Maintenance in New York City, in that same time frame, rose 6.13 percent.

Download the full report for a full analysis of national and metro-level shifts in housing activity.