The rate of housing starts and building permit authorizations dropped slightly in October 2005 compared to October 2004 levels, the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today.

Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2,071,000, which is about 6.7 percent below the revised September rate of 2,219,000 and is about 1.1 percent below the October 2004 estimate of 2,093,000.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, factoring in seasonal fluctuations in statistics.

Single-family authorizations in October were at a rate of 1,681,000, or about 4.9 percent below the September figure of 1,767,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 306,000 in October.

Privately owned housing starts in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2,014,000, or about 5.6 percent below the revised September estimate of 2,134,000 and about 2.3 percent below the October 2004 rate of 2,062,000.

Single-family housing starts in October 2005 were at a rate of 1,704,000, or about 3.7 percent below the September figure of 1,770,000. The October rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 271,000.

Privately owned housing completions in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,964,000, which is about even with the revised September estimate and is about 6.7 percent above the October 2004 rate of 1,841,000.

Single-family housing completions in October 2005 were at a rate of 1,612,000; this is about 3.6 percent below the September figure of 1,672,000. The October rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 330,000.

Regionally the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new privately owned housing units authorized in permit-issuing places dropped about 2.3 percent in the West, 1.4 percent in the South and 0.5 percent in the Midwest while increasing 3.3 percent in the Northeast from October 2004 to October 2005. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of new privately owned housing units authorized but not yet started at the end of the month grew about 21.9 percent in the Midwest, 16 percent in the Northeast, 14.7 percent in the West, and 12.5 percent in the South from October 2004 to October 2005, the agencies reported.

The rate of new privately owned housing units started fell about 14.4 percent in the Midwest, 7.3 percent in the West, 1.7 percent and increased 5.4 percent in the South from October 2004 to October 2005. The rate of privately owned housing units under construction at the end of the month dropped about 1.8 percent in the Midwest while rising 21.3 percent in the Northeast, 10.3 percent in the South and 7.9 percent in the West from October 2004 to October 2005.

And the rate of new privately owned housing units completed fell about 18.7 percent in the Northeast and 2.8 percent in the Midwest while rising 18.1 percent in the South and 4.1 percent in the West from October 2004 to October 2005, according to the report.

The Census Bureau notes that month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics often show movements, which may be irregular. It can take four months to establish an underlying trend for building permit authorizations, six months for total starts, and six months for total completions, for example. The statistics are estimated from sample surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as non-sampling error including bias and variance from response, non-reporting, and under-coverage, the Census Bureau reported.

On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates of total building permits, housing starts and housing completions are revised about 1 percent.

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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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