The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in December was up approximately 10.9 percent over the November estimate but approximately down 3 percent from the December 2003 rate, the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today.

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

In 2004, the number of housing starts (not seasonally adjusted) grew 9.2 percent in the West, 8.3 percent in the South, and 6.6 percent in the Northeast, while falling 4.8 percent in the Midwest. Overall, housing starts were up 5.7 percent in 2004.

Also, the number of housing starts (not seasonally adjusted) for structures with 2-4 units rose 23.6 percent in 2004, while starts for structures with one unit were up 7.3 percent, and starts for structures with five or more units were down 3.7 percent.

Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.02 million, which is approximately 0.3 percent below the November rate of 2.03 million but approximately 2.1 percent higher than the December 2003 estimate of 1.98 million.

Single-family authorizations in December were at a rate of 1.56 million, which is approximately 0.6 percent above the November figure of 1.55 million. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 367,000 in December.

An estimated 2.02 million housing units were authorized by building permits in 2004. This is approximately 6.8 percent above the 2003 figure of 1.89 million.

Single-family housing starts in December 2004 were at a rate of 1,678,000, which is up approximately 13.1 percent from the November figure of 1.48 million. The December estimate for units in buildings with five units or more was 291,000. An estimated 1.95 million housing units were started in 2004, which is approximately 5.7 percent above the 2003 figure of 1.85 million.

Privately owned housing completions in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.95 million, which is up approximately 12.5 percent from the revised November estimate of 1.73 million and is approximately 12.1 percent above the December 2003 rate of 1.74 million.

Single-family housing completions in December 2004 were at a rate of 1.67 million, which is approximately 15.7 percent above the November figure of 1.45 million. The December rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 252,000.

An estimated 1.84 million housing units were completed in 2004. This is 9.9 percent (plus or minus 2.3 percent) above the 2003 estimate of 1.68 million.

From December 2003 to December 2004, housing starts dropped approximately 5.3 percent in the Midwest, approximately 3 percent in the South, approximately 2.3 percent in the Northeast, and approximately 1.7 percent in the West.

On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates of total building permits, housing starts and housing completions are revised about 1 percent. Explanations of confidence intervals and sampling variability can be found at http://www.census.gov/newresconst.

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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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