Building permits were issued in May at a rate that was 6.4 percent lower than that of April and housing starts also fell.  Housing completions were up, Driven by a huge increase in the Northeast. 

Today's New Residential Construction report, issued by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, states that permits in May were issued at a seasonally adjusted rate of 991,000 compared to 1,059,000 permits in April.  The April number was originally reported at 1,080,000.  The May permits fell 1.9 percent below those in May 2013 which were estimated at a rate of 1,010,000, but the decline was exclusively due to the multifamily sector.

Single family permits were issued at a rate of 619,000, up 3.7 percent from the revised (from 602,000) rate of 597,000 in April.  Permits for construction of buildings with two or more units were at a rate of 372,000 compared to 462,000 in April, a substantial 19.5 percent decline.  Multifamily permits were 386,000 one year earlier.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis there were 91,000 permits issued during the month, 59,500 of which were for single-family units.  In April the corresponding numbers were 94,700 and 57,600.

Housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,001,000, a drop of 6.3 percent from 1,071,000 in April and 9.4 percent higher than a year earlier when starts were at a rate of 915,000.  The report revised the April housing start number down from 1,072,000.

Single-family units were started at a rate of 625,000, a decrease of 5.9 percent from April's 664,000 rate and 24.8 percent higher than in May 2013.   Multi-family starts were at a rate of 376,000 compared to 407,000.

The non-seasonally adjusted numbers for May were 94,200 units started including 59,700 single-family.  The April numbers were 95,700 and 62,000.

Housing completions were estimated at a rate of 897,000 compared to 840,000 in April, a 6.8 percent increase.  May's completions were up 24.8 percent from a year earlier.  April completions were a revision from 847,000 originally reported.

Single family completions were at a rate of 618,000, a 2.1 percent improvement on April's 605,000.  Completions in multiple unit buildings were at a rate of 269,000 compared to 231,000 in April.

There were 73,200 units completed during the month compared to 64,300 in April.  Single family completions numbered 51,800, up from 46,200 the previous month.

At the end of May there were 749,000 units under construction, 10,000 more than in April.  Single family units in process numbered 343,000 and units in buildings with five or more units totaled 396,000.

Also at the end of May there were 110,300 permits outstanding for which construction had not been started compared to 114,000 in April.  The permits were almost equally divided between those for single-family and for multi-unit construction.  

Permits were issued in the Northeast at a rate 3.5 percent above April and 11.4 percent higher than a year earlier.  Housing starts plummeted 25.2 percent from a month earlier and were down 5.0 percent from May 2013.  Completions soared by 75.7 percent and were up 128.1 percent from the previous May.

The Midwest saw permits rise 3.8 percent month-over-month and 9.9 percent year-over-year.  Housing starts were off 16.5 percent from April but were 27.4 percent above a year earlier.  Completions rose 16.5 and 27.6 percent compared to the two earlier periods.

In the South permitting fell 7.3 percent from April and 6.9 percent from a year earlier.  Starts were up by 7.3 percent for the month and 10.4 percent on an annual basis.  Completions fell by 7.5 percent compared to April but were 5.1 percent higher than a year earlier.

Permitting in the West was off the April pace by 15.2 percent and was 4.3 percent below levels the previous May.  Starts also fell, down 16.3 percent from April but increased 2.0 percent year-over-year.  Completions rose 6.6 percent from the previous month and were up 33.8 percent from May of last year.