While one can discuss seasonal factors, such as abnormally warm weather, as a driver of today's beat in Housing Starts, a far less noted number for headline purposes is the other side of the equation - Housing Completions. Because after all, every house that is started has to be completed at some point. One look at the chart below, shows why completions is quietly ignored, as it presents a far less optimistic picture about the housing market. Indeed, printing at 530k seasonally adjusted annualized units, the completions number was just the second lowest in decades, better only than the 509K from January 2011. And where this becomes rather glaring is when looking at the relative, or percentage, spread between Starts and Completions: at 31.9%, this was the highest in, well, as far as our data series goes back to.I wonder if there are government funds available for starting construction that do not require the builder to complete the project. Somehow, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the government is squandering tax dollars like that to pad the housing starts stats.
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