The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Census Bureau said this morning that permits for residential construction were issued at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 925,000 units in January.  This was an increase of 35.2 percent over the rate in January 2012 and was 1.8 percent higher than the December rate of 909,000 which was revised upward in the report from 903,000

Single family building permits were issued at a rate of 584,000 units, 1.9 percent higher than the 573,000 issued in December and 29.2 percent higher than a year earlier.  Multi-family permits, (in buildings with five or more units) were issued at a seasonally adjusted rate of 311,000 units compared to 308,000 in December and 212,000 in January 2012.

Building Permits

Privately-owned housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 890,000, down from 973,000 in January, but 23.6 percent higher than the January 2012 rate of 720,000.  The original figure reported for December was 954,000 units.

Single family housing starts were at a rate of 613,000, up 0.8 percent from a downwardly revised December estimate of 608,000 and 20 percent higher than a year earlier.  Starts in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 260,000 a 26.1 percent decrease from December.

Housing Starts

Housing completions were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 724,000, up 6.0 percent from the December estimate of 683,000 and 33.6 percent higher than the completion rate in January 2012 of 542,000.  Single family unit completions were at a rate of 565,000, up 7.0 percent from December and 43.4 percent from a year earlier.  Multifamily units were completed at a rate of 152,000, up 3.4 percent from December's rate of 147,000.

There was a backlog of 96,300 permits for which construction had not yet been started in January.  More than half of these, 48,600, were for units in multi-family buildings and more than half of the unexecuted permits (54,500) were located in the South.

There were 587,000 residential units under construction at the end of the reporting period; 284,000 were single family units and 264,000 were in buildings with five or more units.

On a regional basis, permits were up 10.1 percent month-over-month and 39.7 percent year-over-year in the Northeast but housing starts decreased by 35.3 percent from December.  Starts were 1.4 percent higher than a year earlier.

Permits in the Midwest rose 1.4 percent from December and were 41.6 percent higher than a year earlier.  Housing starts were down 50 percent compared to December and down 10.4 percent from January 2012.

In the South there was an increase of 1.1 percent in permits issued compared to the previous month and starts increased 4.1 percent.  Both permits issued and housing starts were 19.9 percent above the rate one year earlier.

Permitting was down 0.5 percent from December in the West but was 72.7 percent above the rate in January 2012.  Housing starts increased 16.7 percent from December and 73.0 percent from the same period in 2012.