Housing units authorized by building permits were up year-over-year and month-to-month in December, even as housing starts and completions were down on a monthly and year-over-year basis, according to a report on new residential construction by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"Builders have acted prudently by cutting back production during a period of low demand and uncertainty in the overall market," said Joe Robson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, in a statement.
"With inventories so low, we’re seeing an increase in permits as builders understand they need to ramp up production to take full advantage of the short window offered by the homebuyer tax credit and the expectations of increased demand as the economic recovery begins to take hold later in the year."
In December, the number of privately owned housing units issued building permits rose an estimated 10.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 653,000 from a revised November rate of 589,000. The rate increased an estimated 15.8 percent year-over-year, from 564,000 in December 2008.
The Northeast saw the biggest year-over-year increase — 45 percent — in total units authorized, while the South saw the smallest increase, at 5.6 percent.
Of the units authorized by permits last month, 508,000 were for single-family homes. That’s an estimated 8.3 percent above the revised November figure of 469,000 and 37.3 percent higher than in December 2008. The West saw the biggest increase, 48 percent, year-over-year.
In buildings with five units or more, authorizations were at a rate of 127,000 in December, or an estimated 33.7 percent higher month-to-month and 27 percent lower year-over-year.
Housing units authorized by building permits in all of 2009, an estimated 571,600, were an estimated 36.9 percent below 2008’s figure, 905,400.
Privately owned housing starts in December fell an estimated 4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 557,000 from a revised November estimate of 580,000, but rose slightly — an estimated 0.2 percent year-over-year from 556,000.
In the Midwest and the South, housing starts year-over-year rose 15.8 and 9.5 percent, respectively, but in the West and the Northeast, starts fell 19.4 and 19 percent, respectively. …CONTINUED
Single-family housing starts in December fell to 456,000, an estimated 6.9 percent below the revised November rate
of 490,000. In all regions but the Northeast, however, such housing starts rose year-over-year, with a 30 percent rise in the Midwest, a 23.3 percent rise in the South, and a 15 percent rise in the West.
In the Northeast, single-family starts fell an estimated 27.5 percent.
The December rate for buildings with five units or more was 92,000, or 15 percent higher month-to-month and 40.3 percent lower year-over-year.
Housing starts last year overall dropped an estimated 38.8 percent from the year before, from 905,500 to 553,800.
Privately-owned housing completions in December fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 768,000, an estimated 11.2 percent from the revised November figure of 865,000, and 25.3 percent below the December 2008 rate of 1,028,000.
Completions in every region fell year-over-year, with the West experience the largest drop, down 39.8 percent. In the Northeast and South, completions fell 27.6 percent and 22 percent, respectively. The Midwest saw the smallest decrease at 6.8 percent.
Of those completions last month, 503,000 were single-family units, an estimated 11.1 percent below the revised November rate of 566,000. Single-family completions year-over-year dipped 41.4 percent in the West and 32.4 percent in the South. Such completions stayed flat in the Northeast and rose a bit, 4.3 percent, in the Midwest.
In buildings with five units or more, the December rate was 245,000, or 13.1 percent lower month-to-month and 23.4 lower year-over-year.
Throughout 2009, completed housing units dropped an estimated 28.9 percent, to 796,000 from 1.12 million in 2008.
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