December's numbers for residential construction were mixed when compared to November, but all were better than the monthly figures the previous December.  Year-end figures, also released today by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show permitting, housing starts, and completions all performed better in 2014 than in 2013.   

Permits for privately owned housing units were issued in December at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,032,000 units.  This was a -1.9 percent change from the upwardly revised (from 1,035,000) November rate of 1,052,000 units.  Permits in December were up 1.0 percent from the December 2013 estimate of 1,022,000.

Single family permits were issued at an annual rate of 667,000 in December, a 4.5 percent improvement over November's 638,000 figure.  December's permits were 8.1 percent higher than a year earlier.   Permits for construction of units in buildings with five or more units were at a rate of 338,000, down 12.4 percent from November and 9.9 percent from a year earlier.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis there were 80,600 permits issued in December compared to 71,300 in November.  Permits for all of 2014 were estimated at 1,032,900 compared to 990,800 for all of 2013, an increase of 4.2 percent.

Privately owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,089,000 in December, 4.4 percent above the revised November estimate of 1,043,000 and 5.3 percent above the rate the previous December of 1,034,000.  The November rate of construction starts was originally estimated at 1,028,000.

Single family starts were at a rate of 728,000, up 7.2 percent from November's 679,000 units and 7.9 percent higher than a year earlier.   There were 339,000 units of multi-family units started on an annualized basis compared to 354,000 units in November, a decrease of 4.2 percent but virtually unchanged from December 2013.

On a non-annualized basis starts were estimated at 73,300 units down from 78,400 in November.  The report put starts for the entire year at 1,005,800, an 8.8 percent increase from 924,900 starts in 2013.

Residential housing units were completed during the month at an annual rate of 927,000, up 6.3 percent from November's revised 872,000 units (originally estimated at 863,000 units) and 19.6 percent more than the 775,000 completions in December 2013. 

Single family units were completed at a rate of 667,000 units in December, 9.5 percent above the November rate of 609,000 and 17.4 percent above completions in December 2013.  Multi-family completions were estimated at 254,000 compared to a rate of 249,000 the previous month.

The unadjusted numbers for completions in December and November were 88,300 and 72,200.  Completions over the entire year totaled 883,000, an increase of 15.5 percent from the 2013 figure of 764,400.

At the end of 2014 there were 810,900 units of housing under construction.  An estimated 347,200 of those were single-family houses and 452,300 were multifamily units.  There were also 114,200 permits which had been issued but under which construction had not yet begun.

In the Northeast region permits were issued at a rate that was 16.8 percent lower than in November and down 19.5 percent from one year earlier.  Starts however increased 12.5 percent from the previous month and were 51.8 percent above year-ago levels.  Completions rose 13.5 percent but lagged figures for the previous December by 35.9 percent.

Permits in the Midwest rose 6.7 percent from November and were up 11.9 percent on an annual basis.  Starts were down 13.3 percent for the month and up 5.2 percent for the year. The region had the best showing in the country for residential completions.  Those figures rose 30.8 percent for the month and 40.3 percent year-over-year.

The South saw a 9.6 percent month-over-month increase in permits issued and a rise of 13.7 percent compared to the previous December.  Starts rose 8.8 percent from November but were 1.2 percent below the year-ago rate.  Completions fell 5.9 percent for the month while rising 11.7 percent from December to December.

Permits dropped 20.5 percent in the West and were 17.9 percent lower than a year earlier. Starts and completions improved however.  The former were up 5.8 percent and 3.5 percent respectively while completions were 14.8 percent higher than in November and up 52.0 percent from a year earlier.