Single-family housing starts jump 4.4% in December

Nationwide production of new single-family homes rose 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 470,000 units in December.

January 19, 2012
single-family homes, home market, housing market, housing starts

Nationwide production of new single-family homes rose 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 470,000 units in December, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Commerce Department and reported by the National Association of Home Builders. This jump marks a third consecutive increase and the fastest pace of single-family housing starts since April of 2010.

Combined single- and multifamily housing starts fell 4.1 percent to a 657,000-unit rate in December due to the multifamily side retreating 20.4 percent from a big gain in the previous month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 187,000 units. However, for the year as a whole, overall housing production was pegged at 606,900 units, which was 3.4 percent better than the overall number of starts in 2010.

Regionally, December housing starts rose 54.8 percent in the Midwest following a big decline in the previous month. The Northeast posted a 41.2 percent decline that offset a big gain in the previous month, while the South and West also posted declines of 3.0 percent and 17.6 percent, respectively.

Permit issuance, which can be an indicator of future building activity, held virtually flat at a 679,000-unit rate in December. Single-family permits rose for a third consecutive month, by 1.8 percent to 444,000 units, while multifamily permits declined 3.7 percent to 235,000 units.

Regionally, permits rose 5.8 percent in the Midwest and held unchanged in the West, but declined 6.5 percent in the Northeast and 0.6 percent in the South in December.

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