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Housing Permits Down, Completed Construction Up

Driven by multifamily activity, permits to build new housing decreased last month. But apartments drove up the rate of completed construction.

Municipalities issued a preliminary 84,500 building permits for the construction of single-family and multifamily properties during February 2017.

Permits fell from an upwardly revised 87,300 the previous month but were no different than the upwardly revised figure the same month last year.

The figures were jointly released Thursday
by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, last month’s annual rate of permit issuance
fell to 1.213 million from an upwardly revised 1.293 million in January. But the rate rose from the downwardly revised 1.162 million in February 2016.

The Northeast led the month-over-month decline, tumbling 22 percent to a seasonally adjusted 115,000 annual rate. Permits in the South were down more than 10 percent to a rate of 580,000, and the West fell by a tenth to a 271,000 rate.

The Midwest was the only region to seen an increase from January: 25 percent to 247,000.

U.S. one-unit permits were issued
at a rate of 832,000 in February, rising 3 percent from January.

“The growth in the single-family arena is very encouraging, but may be partly attributable to unusually warm weather conditions throughout most of the country,” National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz said in a written statement. “The modest drop in multifamily starts is in line with our forecast, which calls for this sector to continue to stabilize in 2017.”

Multifamily permits, however, sank 27 percent from the last report to a rate of 334,000.

A seasonally adjusted 133,000 U.S. housing units were authorized but not started as of Feb. 28, 2017.

Construction was started at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.288 million last month, rising 3 percent from a month earlier and 6 percent higher than a year earlier.

With a seasonally adjusted 1.091 million housing units under construction at the end of February 2017, the inventory was up a percent from the previous month and 11 percent from a year previous.

There were 74,900 U.S. housing units completed during the latest month, more than the upwardly revised 73,000 in January and 71,200 in February 2016.

February 2017 saw construction completed at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.114 million housing units. The rate improved from an upwardly revised 1.057 million the prior month
and an upwardly revised 1.025 million a year prior.

In the West, which is less impacted by winter weather, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of completed
construction was 326,000, soaring 68 percent from the first month of the year — the biggest gain of any region. The Northeast jumped 18 percent to a rate of 99,000.

A 7 percent decline left the annual rate at 565,000
in the South, while the rate plunged 28 percent in the Midwest to a rate of 124,000.

U.S. single-family construction was completed at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 754,000, down 7 percent on a month-over-month basis but 3 percent better on a year-over-year basis.

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 344,000, multifamily construction completed increase 39 percent from January and 27 percent from February of last year.

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