Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.1 million, which is approximately 1.7 percent above the revised December rate of 2.07 million and is approximately 6.8 percent above the January 2004 estimate of 1.97 million, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate projects a monthly total over a 12-month period.

Privately owned housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.16 million, which is approximately 4.7 percent above the revised December estimate of 2.06 million and is approximately 11.6 percent above the January 2004 rate of 1.93 million.

Privately owned housing completions in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.92 million. This is approximately 0.8 percent below the revised December estimate of 1.93 million, but is approximately 11.7 percent above the January 2004 rate of 1.71 million.

Single-family authorizations in January were at a rate of 1,624,000; this is approximately 0.7 percent above the December figure of 1.61 million. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 393,000 in January.

Single-family housing starts in January 2005 were at a rate of 1.76 million; this is approximately 2.7 percent above the December figure of 1.71 million. The January rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 355,000. And single-family housing completions in January 2005 were at a rate of 1.6 million; this is approximately 3.7 percent below the December figure of 1.66 million. The January rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 272,000.

New privately owned housing units authorized were up approximately 11.9 percent in the South from January 2004 to January 2005, up approximately 6.9 percent in the West, up approximately 6.5 percent in the Northeast and down approximately 6.1 percent in the Midwest, according to the report.

There were 73,300 new privately owned housing units authorized in the South in January 2005, 35,400 units authorized in the West, 16,100 units authorized in the Midwest and 11,100 units authorized in the Northeast.

A total of 80,500 new privately owned housing units were started in the South in January 2005, compared with 36,800 units started in the West, 15,500 units started in the Midwest and 8,000 units started in the Northeast.

Month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics often show movements that may be irregular. It may take four months to establish an underlying trend for building permit authorizations, five months for total starts, and six months for total completions. The statistics in this release are estimated from sample surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as nonsampling error, including bias and variance from response, nonreporting, and undercoverage.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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