The latest residential construction statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for December 2011 show privately-owned housing starts posting a big year-over-year increase, rising by nearly 25 percent from December 2010 at an annual rate of 657,000 projects.
Monthly, private starts were down 4.1 percent from November to December, but the decline was due more to a depressed multifamily inventory for the month. Single-family starts, by contrast, increased from 450,000 in November to 470,000 in December, a 4.4 percent gain and the highest level since the homebuyer tax credit expired in 2010, though 2011 on a while may prove to be one of the weaker years in recent memory for single-family construction.
All in all, the Census Bureau is estimating that 606,900 housing units were started in 2011, a 3.4 percent increase from 2010.
Housing completions posted similarly positive data, increasing 9.2 percent monthly and 7.1 percent year-over-year. The statistics for completions, ironically, were the inverse of private starts – single-family completions were down 0.9 percent, while multifamily units were up, increasing in total by 10.4 percent from 2010.
Building permits, which are the most forward-thinking of the construction data, were slightly down from November to December by just 0.1 percent, but were 7.8 percent above December 2010’s estimates.
As Calculated Risk notes, following the housing bust in 2007, when residential construction trended sharply downward, recent statistics for construction have been running sideways the last two years.