New January Housing Permits Hit Highest Level Since June 2007, Led by Multi-Family

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • The rate of housing permit filings in January IMPROVED 7.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 1.396 million units;
  • The rate of permits for single-family home starts in JANUARY declined 1.7 percent to an SAAR of 866,000 units;
  • The rate of permits for multi-family homes rose 26.5 percent in JANUARY to 530,000 units (SAAR);
  • The rate of all housing starts ROSE 9.7 percent in JANUARY to an SAAR of 1.33 million;
  • Single-family starts ROSE 3.7 percent to an SAAR of 877,000 while multi-family starts SOARED 23.7 percent to an SAAR of 449,000;
  • The rate of home completions in December INCREASED 2.2 percent from November; Single-family completions GREW 4.3 percent while multi-family homes declined


  • The pace of all permits rose to the highest level since June 2007 (1.41 million)
  • Single-family permits represented 62.0 percent of all permits, the lowest share since October 2016 (60.6 percent).
  • Total starts reached the highest level since October 2016 (1.328 million)
  • Multi-family housing starts rose to the highest level since January 2017 (460,000)

Data Source: Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development 

Image result for housing permits and starts

A surge in multi-family permits drove new housing permit to the highest level in over a decade as developers responded to the habits of millennials who appear to be shunning single-family homes.

While the sharp increase in permits is welcome news for home builders whose housing market index (HMI) remained at a lofty 72 this month, according to the National Association of Home Builders which creates the index. One of the components of the index, measuring current home buying activity, reached its highest level since June 2005.

While the national homeownership rate rose to 64.2 percent in the fourth quarter – highest in more than three years – the homeownership among the under 35 age cohort, once as high as 42.8 percent, was 36.0 percent at the end of last year

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday at 6:20 am on POTUS Morning Briefing, Sirius-XM 124. You can follow him on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

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