Report: Construction Season Starts Slow with 269 Single-family Home Building Permits Issued in Region

A total of 269 single-family home building permits were issued in Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, and Wayne counties in March 2019, marking the beginning of a slower-than-expected construction season, according to the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan in Farmington Hills.
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The number of single-family home building permits issued in metro Detroit in March marks the beginning of a slower-than-expected construction season. // Stock photo

A total of 269 single-family home building permits were issued in Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, and Wayne counties in March 2019, marking the beginning of a slower-than-expected construction season, according to the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan in Farmington Hills.

The March data brings the 2019 first-quarter total to 736.

The cold and snowy weather conditions in the beginning of 2019 was comparable to that of 2015. This year’s first quarter total is higher than that of 2015, but the total for March 2019 is nearly 17 percent lower than March 2015, when 323 permits were issued.

“The reason for the slower-than-forecast new home permit activity in March can perhaps be found in data for existing home sales,” says Michael Stoskopf, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan. “Looking at data reported by REALCOMP for the four-county area, existing home sales for 1Q ‘19 are off to their slowest start as well since 1Q ‘15 … simply stated, home buyer traffic has not yet emerged this year for either type of product.”

The association reports reasons for optimism, however. The number of people employed as well as the workforce stayed largely flat from one month ago and one year ago, with both numbers showing small increases. The number of people employed in the region is at more than 1.9 million, its highest level since December 2005. This is an increase of 1.9 percent year-over-year. The workforce increased 1.2 percent from March 2018 to about 2 million.

There also has been an 8-percent year-over-year decline in crude oil prices to $56.92 per barrel. This is an increase of 8.3 percent from the previous month. The 30-year fixed mortgage rates also are improving, following the Federal Reserve’s recent decision to hold interest rates steady and indicating that no further increases are likely for the remainder of 2019.

North American vehicle production has increased 8.1 percent from one month ago and decreased 4.9 percent from the previous year to 1,473,386 vehicles.

The average single-family home price increased 4.9 percent from February 2019 to $211,298. This number stayed largely flat with a small increase of 1.8 percent from March 2018. The average new single-family permit value decreased from the previous month by 11.2 percent to $283,532. This is an increase of 15.1 percent year-over-year.

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