Home/Mortgages/Housing Starts End the Year 3.4 Percent Higher than 2010

January 19, 2012 (Chris Moore)

A strong year-end finish in residential construction saved 2011 from the dubious distinction of being the worse year on record for housing starts as a 60.5 percent increase in multi-family starts pushed total starts 3.4 percent higher than in 2010 according to the latest data released by the Census Bureau.

Privately owned housing starts declined by 4.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 657,000 in December from a revised estimate of 685,000 in November. Housing starts were 24.9 percent higher than in December 2010 which had an estimated 526,000 starts.

Single-family housing starts increased in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 470,000, up 4.4 percent from a revised estimate of 450,000 starts in November and also up 11.6 percent from December of last year which reported an estimated 421,000 starts.

Housing starts for multi-family dwellings declined 27.8 percent from a revised 227,000 starts in November to 164,000 starts in December. Housing starts for multi-family dwellings were still 69.1 percent higher than a year ago when an estimated 97,000 starts were recorded.

After trailing for the first ten months of the year, the number of housing starts in 2011 surpassed last year’s total, mostly on the strength of multi-family starts. At the end of December, 606,900 housing starts were reported for 2011 compared to 586,900 starts in 2010.

Single-family housing starts accounted for 428,600 of those starts in 2011 while multi-family housing starts accounted for 167,400, while in 2010, single-family starts accounted for 471,200 of the total housing starts and multi-family starts accounted for 104,300.

The number of building permits issued in December declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 679,000, down 0.1 percent from a revised estimate of 680,000 permits in November. Authorized building permits were 7.8 percent higher than the December 2010 estimate of 630,000.

Single-family building permit authorizations were 1.8 percent higher in December than November with 444,000 permits authorized in December compared to a revised 436,000 in November. Building permit authorizations for single-family homes were 0.2 percent lower than in December of last year which had an estimated 445,000 permits issued.

Multi-family dwelling permits in December fell to 209,000 authorizations from a revised total of 223,000 in November, a decline of 6.3 percent. Authorizations for multi-family dwellings were 30.6 percent higher than in December of last year which had an estimated 160,000 authorizations.

Housing completions posted a 9.2 percent increase in December compared to November with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 605,000 completions reported in December compared to November’s revised estimate of 554,000 completions. Housing completions were 7.1 percent higher than in December of last year when an estimated 565,000 completions were reported.

Single-family completions in December were at a rate of 448,000, which was 0.9 percent lower than November’s revised rate of 452,000. Multi-family completions in December were at a rate of 147,000, which was 51.5 percent higher than November’s 97,000 completions.

The number of homes that were completed in 2011 was 10.4 percent less than in 2010. An estimated 583,900 homes were completed in 2011 compared to 651,700 in 2010.

Regionally, monthly housing starts declined in three of the four regions with the Northeast posting the largest decline of 41.2 percent, followed by the West at 17.6 percent and the South at 3.0 percent, while the Midwest posted the only increase of 54.8 percent.

Compared to a year ago, three of the four regions posted an increase in housing starts with the Midwest posting the largest increase of 121.5 percent, followed by the South at 19.0 percent and the West, which increased 1.5 percent. The Midwest posted the only yearly decline of 1.7 percent.

Building permit authorizations declined in two of the four regions in December compared to November. In the Northeast, authorizations declined 6.5 percent and in the South authorizations declined 0.6 percent. In the Midwest, building permit authorizations were 5.8 percent higher, while in the West, authorizations were unchanged from the previous month.

Year-over-year building permit authorizations were mixed with the Northeast posting a 36.8 percent decline along with a 1.2 percent decline in the West. The South and the Midwest posted increases of 31.1 and 13.4 percent, respectively.

Tags: housing starts, single-family homes, multi-family dwellings, building permits, housing completions

Census Bureau