Multi-family building drives gains in U.S. housing permits and starts

While housing construction is slow now, a new report provides some hope for the struggling construction industry. Building permits in October rose 10.9 percent over September’s figure on a seasonally adjusted basis, and now stand 17.7 percent above the rate achieved in October 2010, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce released today. Much of the gain can be attributed to permits for buildings of at least five units, which gained 29.5 percent over September and 62.9 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

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Actual housing starts remained stagnant compared to September, stumbling 0.3 percent, but stood 16.5 percent above October 2010 starts. The number of buildings started with five or more units nearly doubled compared to last year, as developers continue to believe in strength of the multi-family housing sector.

New housing is slow to come to the market though, as housing completions fell month-over-month and year-over-year by 5.7 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively. — Adam Fusfeld