New-home production slowed slightly in July, but building permits for single-family homes remained more than 10 percent ahead of the first seven months of 2003, according to numbers released by the California Building Industry Association.

While the 12,323 building permits issued for single-family homes in July was 13.7 percent less than the previous month, July’s figures were 1.5 percent greater than July 2003. For the first seven months of the year, 90,712 permits were issued for single-family homes, up 10.6 percent from the same period in 2003.

For the year, 149,000 permits for single-family homes are expected to be issued, the largest amount since 1989 and the third-largest number in the past 25 years, according to projections by the Construction Industry Research Board.

Construction of multifamily homes – condominiums and apartments – has slowed, however. Just 3,567 permits were pulled in July, down 37.6 percent from June and down 12.3 percent from July 2003. For the first seven months of the year, permits were down by 10 percent.

But total housing starts as measured by permits issued through July totaled 120,642, up 4.7 percent from the prior year and keeping the state on track to exceed 200,000 housing units for the first time since 1989. CIRB also projects that production will be slightly more than 200,000 in 2005 as well.

According to CBIA Chief Economist Alan Nevin, the new-home market in California is thriving.

“We are most pleased to see that single-family and multi-family units permitted through July remain on an even and very strong course throughout the state,” Nevin said. “The most active single-family markets continue to be Sacramento and Riverside/San Bernardino, which combined total more than 40 percent of the state’s production.”

For the first seven months of 2004, 15 of the state’s 28 metropolitan areas have recorded an increase in the total number of housing permits issued compared to 2003.

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