California home production continued at a near-record pace in August as both single-family and multifamily construction showed strong increases over July and over August 2003, the California Building Industry Association reported Tuesday.

Housing starts as measured by building permits issued totaled 18,564 in August, a jump of 12.8 percent from July and 16.8 percent from August 2003.

Single-family construction posted strong monthly and year-over-year gains, with permits totaling 13,106, a 5.1 percent increase over last month and 12.4 percent increase over August of last year.

After slowing in July, multifamily construction rebounded sharply in August, with permits totaling 5,458, up 37.1 percent from July and 24.2 percent over August 2003, according to the Construction Industry Research Board.

For the first eight months of 2004, total housing starts as measured by permits issued totaled 139,932, up 6.7 percent from the prior year. During that time period, 16 of the state’s 28 metropolitan areas recorded an increase in the total number of housing permits issued, and 19 of the 28 have posted gains in single-family permits compared to 2003.

Builders remain on pace to produce more than 200,000 homes and apartments this year, which would be the most since 1989. But, cautioned CBIA Chief Economist Alan Nevin, that isn’t enough to meet the state’s chronic need for more housing.

“Building 204,000 homes for the year is a good number but we need to be building at least 250,000 just to break even,” Nevin said. “Until we start meeting the demand for new homes in California, inventory will continue to be scarce and prices will continue to rise above even today’s historic numbers.”

The California Building Industry Association is a statewide trade association representing more than 6,000 building professionals.

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