Overall, residential construction continued to improve in July, although the component numbers on permits, starts, and completions continue to more or less lurch upward in fits and starts.  Figures posted today by the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development show improvements in permitting while starts slipped slightly - the mirror opposite of the figures in June. 

Permits were issued during the month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 812,000.  This was a 6.8 percent increase from an upwardly revised June estimate of 760,000.  Permitting in June was estimated at a rate of 755,000, a 3.4 percent dip its previous month.  Despite the almost monthly swings, July permits were issued at a rate 29.5 percent higher than in July 2011.

Permits were issued for single family construction at a rate of 513,000, up 4.5 percent from the revised June figure of 491,000 (revised from 493,000).  Permits for units in buildings with five or more were at a rate of 274,000, up from 241,000 in June.

Building Permits

Housing starts, on the other hand, had jumped 6.9 percent from May to June, but the June number was revised downward today from 760,000 to 754,000, although still representing a sizeable increase, and the July estimate was 1.1 percent below that new June number for a current annual rate of 746,000.  In July 2011 the rate was 614,000 units.

Single family starts in July were at a rate of 502,000, down 6.5 percent from the June figure of 537,000.  Multi-family starts were at the rate of 229,000 units.

Housing Starts

Privately owned housing completions were up 7.1 percent from the upwardly revised June number of 624,000 to 668,000 which was 5.4 percent higher than the rate a year earlier.  Single family completions were at a rate of 448,000, 5.9 percent higher than the revised rate of 476,000 in June.  Multi-family completions were at a 209,000 unit pace.   

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, there were 72,200 permits issued nationally in July and 71,700 housing starts.  Fifty-eight thousand housing units were completed during the period.

In the Northeast permits increased by 12.2 percent from June and housing starts were down 1.3 percent.  Permits were down 4.2 percent in the Midwest while starts surged by 17.0 percent.  In the South the changes in permitting and starts were +5.8 and -2.5 percent respectively and in the West +14.0 and -5.3 percent.

At the end of July there were outstanding permits for 88,900 residential units, 42,800 of which were single family dwellings.  As always seems to be the case, more than half (49,000) of these permits for which construction had not started were located in the South.  There were 489,000 units under construction at the end of the period, 262,000 of which were single family units.  Of the total, 210,000 incomplete units were in the South.