Strong demand for apartment units drove housing starts & permits data far beyond expectations, overshadowing less strength for the key single-family home category. Starts came in near the top of expectations, up 9.8 percent in June at a 1.174 million annual rate, but reflect a 29.4 percent surge in the multi-family component. The single-family component actually fell 0.9 percent. The same pattern appears for permits which jumped 7.4 percent overall to a much higher-than-expected 1.343 million rate but here too multi-family units rose 15.3 percent with single-family up far less but at a still very strong 0.9 percent.

Starts are up 26.6% y/y.

Regional data, where the separation between single-family homes and multi-family units is not broken out, show special strength for the South which is by far the largest region for housing. Starts in the South rose 13.5 percent in June with permits up 10.4 percent. Permits in the West are also strong, up 9.5 percent, though starts in the region fell 6.0 percent. Also of note is an outsized 35.5 percent surge in Northeast starts.

The unusual rise for multi-family units reflects high levels of rent. The single-family component is less strong though the 0.9 percent rise in permits does point to strong second-half activity for the new home sector. This report is very solid but just not as spectacular as the headlines suggest.