New-Home Market Posts Big Gains as Permits Surge

November 27, 2013

Housing permits for home construction reached a five-and-a-half-year high in October, signaling a strong uprise in new-home construction, the Census Bureau reports. 

Led by a big jump in multifamily permits, overall building permits surged 6.2 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.03 million units. That marks the highest level since June 2008. Permits typically lead housing starts by at least a month. 

Housing permits are up 13.9 percent from year ago levels. 

Permits for multifamily homes -- buildings with five units or more -- posted a double-digit increase in October of 15.3 percent in October,  following a 20.1 percent increase in September too. 

Single-family home permits -- which make up the largest part of the market -- rose 0.8 percent, following a 1.9 percent drop in September. 

Housing permits in the West and South posted some of the strongest gains with permits rising to the highest levels in those regions since January 2008. Permits fell in the Midwest and stayed flat in the Northeast.

"Permits are often a harbinger of future housing activity and the strong showing in the multifamily sector along with stable numbers on the single-family side bode well for a continuing, gradual upturn in housing over the coming months," says Robert Denk, a senior economist with the National Association of Home Builders. "But consumer and builder confidence could be seriously undermined unless policymakers make progress over looming budget, tax and economic policy issues in the weeks and months ahead."

Source: “Housing Permits Hit 5-Year High,” Reuters (Nov. 26, 2013) and National Association of Home Builders

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