Building permits for the construction of new privately owned residential units fell 3.8 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 918,000 the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development said today.  The July estimate of permits issued was adjusted upward from 943,000 to 954,000.  August permits were issued at a rate that was 11.0 percent higher than the 827,000 permits issued in August 2012.

Permits for single-family residences were issued at a rate of 627,000, up 3.0 percent from the revised July number of 609,000.  That number was a revision of the earlier estimate of 613,000.  There were an estimated 520,000 single family permits issued in August 2012.  Construction authorizations for units in buildings with five or more totaled 268,000 compared to 318,000 in July.

August housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 891,000, an increase of 0.9 percent from July and 19.0 percent from one year earlier.  The July estimate of housing starts was revised from 896,000 to 883,000.

Construction was begun on single family units at an annual rate of 628,000, 7.0 percent higher than in July.  The July number was revised from 591,000 to 587,000.  The year-over-year increase from the 520,000 single family permits issued in August 2012 was 20.6 percent.  Multi-family permits were issued at a rate of 252,000 units compared to 278,000 units in July and 205,000 units in August 2012.

Privately owned houses were completed at a rate of 769,000, up 0.3 percent from 767,000 in July and 12.1 percent from 686,000 one year earlier.  The Census Bureau originally estimated completions in July at 774,000.  Single family completions rose 0.5 percent to 573,000 and multi-family units rose 1.1 percent to 252,000.

There were 101.600 outstanding permits at the end of the reporting period, virtually unchanged from a month earlier.  About 54,000 were permits for single-family construction and 45,600 were for units in buildings with five or more.  There were a total of 654,000 units under construction at the end of the period, almost equally divided between single family and multi-family units.

Permits were issued in the Northeast at a rate 10.6 percent above July and 52.4 percent higher than one year earlier.  Housing starts fell 8.2 percent from the previous month but were up 34.7 percent on an annual basis

Permitting rose in the Midwest by 4.5 percent month-over-month and 25.8 percent year-over-year.   Starts fell 3.3 percent from July but remained 14.8 percent higher than a year earlier.

In the South permits fell 10.0 percent from July and 4.0 percent from August 2012.  Housing starts were up 12.0 percent and 16.8 percent respectively.

In the West permits were issued at a rate 3.9 percent below the previous month and 17.1 percent above a year earlier.  Housing starts were down 10.9 percent for the month but were 20.0 percent above last August.