By Paul Quinn, RBC Equity Analyst

RBC — March US housing starts of 1,793k (SAAR) were above consensus at 1,740k SAAR – Total starts were up 3.9% y/y and up 0.3% m/m from the revised February figure of 1,788k (revised higher from 1,769k SAAR). On a regional basis, the South represented 47% of total starts vs. 24% in the West, 13% in the Midwest and 16% in the Northeast. On a y/y basis, starts in the South were down 6.4% y/y, while the West was up 13.9% y/y. The Midwest was down 19.4% y/y, while the Northeast was up 77.6% y/y. For March, single-family starts represented 66.9% of total starts (vs. 70.4% in 2021 and 71.8% in 2020). The lower proportion of single-family new residential construction is significant since single-family housing starts typically consume 3x the amount of wood products vs. multi-family starts.

US housing permits of 1,873k (SAAR) were above consensus at 1,820k SAAR – Total permits were up 6.7% y/y and up 0.4% m/m against the revised February figure of 1,865k (revised slightly higher from 1,859k SAAR). Single-family permits of 1,147k were down 3.9% y/y and down 4.8% m/m, while multi-family permits of 726k were up 29.4% y/y and up 10.0% m/m. Single-family permits represented 61.2% of total permits.

Building Material sales modestly increased 0.6% y/y in March – According to the US Census Bureau, category advance retail sales were up 0.5% m/m to $43.6B in March. Relative to 2020 levels, sales are up 32.9%.