The Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that housing permits soared in January to their best pace since June 2007. New residential housing permits increased from 1,300,000 units at the annual rate in December to 1,396,000 units in January, a post-recessionary high. This should bode well for the housing market in the coming months, with stronger permitting activity pointing to healthy construction data moving forward. In that way, this report mirrored a similarly upbeat assessment from homebuilders, who anticipate single-family home sales rising briskly at rates not seen since June 2005. On a year-over-year basis, housing permits have risen 7.4 percent, up from 1,300,000 units in January 2017.
With that said, the bulk of the jump in housing permits in the latest data came from the multifamily segment, which can be volatile from month to month, up from 419,000 to 530,000 units for the month. In contrast, single-family permitting edged down from 881,000 to 866,000.
Meanwhile, new housing starts were also encouraging. New residential construction rose from an annualized 1,209,000 units in December to 1,326,000 in January, its highest level since August 2007. It is also its first reading over 1.3 million units in that time frame. Single-family (up from 846,000 to 877,000) and multifamily (up from 356,000 to 449,000) activity were both sharply higher in January. In January, starts were up in every region of the country except for the Midwest. Housing starts have increased 7.3 percent over the past 12 months, up from 1,236,000 units one year ago.