Permits to build new homes increased 4.1% in October to a level of 1.15 million per year. Both single-family and multifamily levels increased by 2.4% and 6.8% respectively. On a year-to-date basis, total permits are up 11.9%; single-family are up 8.6% and multifamily are up 17.2% as the housing market continues its modest pace of recovery.
Housing starts were down primarily due to a fall in multifamily activity which was up significantly in September and expected to readjust. October multifamily starts at 338,000 were the lowest since March 2015 but increased by 10.4% year to date compared to last year.
Single-family starts were down 2.4% to 722,000 on an annual basis. Three of the four census regions reported slight increases while single-family starts in the South were down 6.9%. The drop appears to be due to especially stormy weather throughout the southern coast in October. Year-to-date single-family sums are up across all regions as are single-family permits suggesting that the slight October drop is temporary.
The steady increase in residential starts in 2015 has produced a steady increase in the number of homes under construction although carrying them through to completion slowed a bit as labor shortages, especially finishing carpenters, slow the ability to get finishing touches done.