Building Permits in U.S. Surge to 13-Year High in January

Building Permits in U.S. Surge to 13-Year High in January

Residential News » Dallas Edition | By David Barley | February 21, 2020 7:45 AM ET

According to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department, total housing starts decreased 3.6 percent in January 2020 from an upwardly revised December 2019 reading to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.57 million units. Meanwhile, overall permits surged to a 13-year high.

The January 2020 reading of 1.57 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts decreased 5.9 percent to a 1.01 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 0.7 percent to a 557,000 pace.

"The housing recovery continues, as single-family housing starts have surpassed 1 million for the second consecutive month and multifamily production has been running above 500,000 for the same period," said Dean Mon, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. "Meanwhile, builder confidence remains solid as demand continues to pick up."

"While the solid pace for residential construction continues, favorable weather conditions may have accelerated production in the winter months," said Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, NAHB's Assistant Vice President of Forecasting and Analysis. "At the same time, the growth in permits is a harbinger that the market will continue to move forward in the coming months even as builders grapple with supply-side issues like excessive regulations, labor shortages and rising material costs."

Regionally in January, combined single- and multifamily housing production increased 31.9 percent in the Northeast and 1.2 percent in the West. Starts fell 25.9 percent in the Midwest and 5.4 percent in the South.

Overall permits increased 9.2 percent to a 1.55 million unit annualized rate in January. This is the highest level since March 2007. Single-family permits increased 6.4 percent to a 987,000 rate while multifamily permits increased 14.6 percent to a 564,000 pace.

Looking at regional permit data, permits are 34.6 percent higher in the Northeast, 8.2 percent higher in the Midwest, 8.0 percent higher in the South and 3.1 percent higher in the West.

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