June housing starts printed up 9.1% to 1.066 million units and building permits were up 11.6% to 1.091 million, but the Commerce Department says this reflects new construction codes in New York City that began July 1 and which resulted in a surge in multifamily activity. The far more significant single-family starts fell 5.3% to 647,000, and single-family permits dropped 3.5% to 613,000.

Excluding the Northeast multifamily data, starts were off 4% and permits rose 0.7%. Detailed data will be released July 25 but the Commerce Department said there were 12,000 unadjusted new multifamily permits in the Northeast in June that translated into a 107,000 rise after seasonal adjustment.

Starts were boosted because they are “ratio-adjusted” to permits; the addition was 11,000 unadjusted and plus-126,000 after adjustment. So the bottom line is that although the data was the best housing news since the winter, it has to be considered as a one-time event that clearly doesn’t signal underlying strength in housing.

With the exception of multifamily housing in the Northeast and South, starts fell everywhere else. Permits were down in the Midwest and for single-family starts in the Northeast and South.

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