Permits for construction of multi-family housing plummeted in April, offsetting a small increase in single family permits  and dropping the total down 7 percent from revised April figures.  Permits for all privately owned residential construction were issued at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 715,000, down from the March rate of 769,000.  The March rate was revised substantially upward from the original estimate of 747,000.  The April permitting rate is 23.7 percent higher than that of April 2011 when the annual rate was estimated at 578,000.

Permits for single family authorizations were at a rate of 475,000, up 1.9 percent from the March rate which was upwardly revised from 462,000 to 466,000.  The April figure is 18.5 percent higher than the rate of 401,000 one year earlier. Permits for construction in buildings with five or more units dropped sharply from the April rate of 281,000 (revised from the original estimate of 262,000) to 217,000, a drop of 22.8 percent.   Multi-family permits were issued at a rate 40.0 percent higher than a year earlier.

Building Permits

Privately owned housing starts rose modestly to 717,000, a 2.6 percent increase from March and a 29.9 percent increase from the April 2011 rate of 552,000.  The March figure was revised from an original estimate of 654,000 to 699,000.

Housing Starts

This month the Construction Report produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development added a non-seasonally adjusted set of data giving the actual numbers for construction activity in the current month.  There were 62,000 permits issued for residential construction during the month, 44,000 for single family houses, and 16,000 for units in building with five or more units.  There were also a small number of permits for units in buildings of two to four units.

Single-family home starts were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 492,000, an increase of 2.3 percent from the March rate of 481,000 and construction starts for multi-family housing were at a rate of 217,000 up from the March rate of 208,000.  Again the April report showed substantial revisions of the March figures.  Single-family starts were revised from the original estimate of 462,000 and multi-family starts from an estimate of 178,000.

There were 64,200 units for which construction was started during the month; 45,800 single family dwellings and 17,800 units in multiple unit buildings. 

The housing completion rate in April was 651,000, a 10.0 percent increase from March and a 20.1 jump from one year earlier when the rates were 592,000 and 542,000 respectively.  Single-family completions were up 11.4 percent to 489,000.

There were 457,000 units under construction at the end of April.

On a regional basis, there were 6,900 permits issued in the Northeast, up from 5,800 in March and 6,200 starts compared to 6,900 the previous month.  There were 10,600 permits and 11,500 starts in the Midwest compared to 10,300 and 8,600 in March.  In the South 30,800 permits were issued, down from 34,300 and 34,100 units were started, up from 29,400.  In the West there were 13,600 permits issued and construction was started on 12,400 compared to 17,000 permits and 12,500 units started in March.