Starts of new homes and new building permits in November moved up a notch from October's near-record-low rates, the Commerce Department reported yesterday, but housing analysts said it was not a significant rise.
Housing economists predicted little improvement in the next few months for the stagnant housing industry but said an upturn should come in the spring.
The November figures showed an annual rate of 871,000 starts, up 0.8 percent from the revised October level of 864,000 but still 44 percent lower than the 1.55 million rate recorded in November 1980. Starts of new single-family homes, at 396,000 units in November, just barely set a new record for the lowest rate since the Commerce Department started collecting the figures in 1959.
Building permits, used as a gauge of future construction, stayed level from October to November at a rate of 718,000 units, down 47 percent from the rate a year ago.
Mark Riedy, executive vice president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said 1981 will have the lowest number of starts in the postwar period at about 1 million units for the year. Three years ago starts were double that.
The tiny rise in overall starts for November did not impress housing analysts.
"It's a bad number," said Michael Sumichrast, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. "Clearly there is no strength in it."
Sumichrast predicted the rate will stay level for two more months before improving in March or April.
Jack Carlson, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, said that the depression in the industry, the longest and deepest it has ever suffered, appears to have bottomed out for now. This is likely to be verified by existing-home sales data now being compiled by the realtors group, he added.
But he had a more pessimistic long-range projection. After a significant upturn in the spring and summer of 1982, the market will once again be hit by skyrocketing interest rates in the winter of 1982-83, he predicted.