The Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's New Residential Construction summary for January 2015 showed mixed and mostly modest results when compared to the December data, however most numbers improved year-over-year.

Permits to construct new residential buildings were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,053,000 units.  This was a dip of 0.7 percent from the number of permits issued in December, an estimated 1,060,000, revised upward from the 1,032,000 permits originally reported.  The January number was 8.1 percent higher than the 974,000 permits authorized one year earlier.

Permits for single-family houses were estimated at 654,000, 3.1 percent fewer than in December. Units in buildings with five or more rose 3.3 percent to 372,000 from 360,000.

On a non-adjusted basis there were an estimated 69,600 permits issued during the month compared to 83,600 in December.  Single-family permits totaled 43,000 for the month.

Housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,065,000, a decrease of 2.0 percent from December.  December starts were revised only slightly from 1,089,000 to 1,087,000.  Starts in January were 18.7 percent higher than a year earlier.

Single-family housing starts were estimated at an annual rate of 678,000, down 6.7 percent from the previous month's rate of 727,000.  Multi-family unit construction was started at a rate of 381,000 units compared to 340,000 in December.

On a non-adjusted basis there were 71,800 starts during the month compared to 73,000 in December. The single-family portion was 44,300 units.

Housing units were completed at a rate of 930,000, a 1.3 percent increase from December's estimate of 918,000 and 9.4 percent from the 850,000 reported a year earlier.  Single-family units were completed at a rate of 649,000, down 2.3 percent and multifamily units rose 10.5 percent to 274,000

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis there were 61,600 units completed during the month compared to 87,100 in December.

At the end of January there were 839,000 housing units under construction in the U.S. on a seasonally adjusted basis and 814,900 unadjusted.  There were 114,600 outstanding permits for which construction had not been started. 

Permits rose 29.5 percent in the Northeast region and were 23.0 percent higher than a year earlier. Housing starts were down for both the month and the year by 3.5 percent and 4.3 percent respectively.  Completions were up 8.9 percent for the month but down 35.8 percent compared to January 2014.

In the Midwest permits fell by 16.0 percent month-over-month and 18.6 percent year-over-year.  While starts were down 22.2 percent from December they rose a whopping 125.8 percent from a year earlier, a period of unusually cold weather in the region.  Units were completed at a rate 22.0 fewer than in December and 2.7 percent below the January 2014 pace.

The South had 8.7 percent fewer permits issued in January than in December but 6.0 percent more than in January 2014. Starts rose 6.5 percent from the December level and 9.1 percent year-over-year. Completions improved by 20.8 percent and 20.5 percent for the two periods.

Permits in the West rose 16.8 percent for the month and 26.4 percent on an annual basis.  Starts declined by 3.4 percent from December but were 21.7 percent higher than in January 2014.  Completions fell 17.6 percent from December but were 15.0 percent higher than a year earlier.