The U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development released statistics Wednesday on New Residential Construction for October 2010, covering building permits, housing starts, and housing completions.

On a seasonally adjusted annual basis, 550,000 privately-owned housing units were authorized by permit during October.  This is a mere 0.5 percent increased from the September annual figure of 547,000 but is 4.5 percent lower than in October 2009.  Single-family homes represented 406,000 of the permits, an increase of 1.0 percent from September while 23,000 permits were issued for units within buildings containing two to four units and 121,000 permits for units within buildings containing five or more units.  

In October there were 79,500 outstanding permits for which construction had not yet started.  This was a decrease of 1,900 units or 2.3 percent from September.

Housing Starts data estimates how much new residential real estate construction was initiated during the previous month, not including remodeling or renovation.  Estimated on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, new construction began on 519,000 privately-owned homes in September.  This was a drop of 11.7 percent from the revised September estimate of 588,000 and is 1.9 percent lower than figures for October 2009.  Single family housing starts were at a rate of 436,000, 1.1 percent below the revised September figure of 441,000.  Starts for units in buildings with five or more units were at the rate of 74,000.  There is not sufficient data to reliably report on starts for two- to four-family buildings

Homes were completed in October at an annual rate of 613,000, down 3.2 percent from the revised September estimate of 633,000 and 18.4 percent lower than the 751,000 in October 2009.  Single family homes account for 501,000 of the completions, up 2.7 percent month-over-month and completion of units in buildings with five or more units was at the rate of 107,000.

On a regional basis permitting was up 14.3 percent in the Midwest and down 3.4 percent in the South.  Other changes were within 3 percentage points of the previous month.  The Northeast saw an increase of 12.9 percent in housing starts while the South saw the rate of starts drop by a whopping 30.5 percent.  The South also saw a 16.1 percent drop in completions while in the Midwest completions increased by 24.2 percent.