Although permit volume nationally grew by 3% during the first four months of this year, only 10 of the top 25 metro areas in 2001 recorded gains during the first third of 2002 compared with January-April 2001. Metropolitan Atlanta registered 61% more permits than any other metro area, but the Atlanta's volume through four months this year was running 3.0% behind its level for January-April 2001.
Among the largest home building markets in 2001 (as measured by the volume of combined single-family and multifamily permitted construction), Minneapolis (+38.8%), Columbus (+22.6%), Houston (+20.1%) and Sacramento (+17.3%) were off to the strongest starts during the first four months of 2002. The major metro areas recording the steepest declines in permit volume were Los Angeles (-40.5%), Kansas City (-28.5%), Seattle (-22.9%) and New York (-19.1%).
January-April permit volume rose solidly in a number of moderate-size, industrial-based metro markets, including Baltimore (+16.2%), Milwaukee (+12.8%), Philadelphia (+6.5%) and Cincinnati (+5.3%). In addition, permit volume in Des Moines, Iowa, more than doubled. Florida's metro markets almost without exception recorded strong gains. In addition to the increases in Tampa and Orlando, Fort Pierce (+87.5%), Melbourne (+60.8%), Daytona Beach (+45.9%), West Palm Beach-Boca Raton (+31.1%), Sarasota-Bradenton (+24.6%) and Naples (+13.2%) posted gains.