Building permits in November increased 5.7% from the previous month to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 681,000 units. This is the highest building permit activity has been since March 2010. Single-family building permits increased 1.6% from the previous month to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 435,000 units in November while multi-family building permits jumped 13.9% from last month to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 246,000 units.
The Commerce Department reported that U.S. housing starts increased 9.3% from the previous month to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 685,000 units compared to a figure of 627,000 units in October, but as previously noted the wider 90% confidence interval on the housing start survey means this figure cannot be definitively be identified as an actual increase. Housing starts for the previous two months were also revised higher by 15,000 units. The potential uptick in residential construction activity was due mainly due to a surge in multi-family activity.
The National Association of Homebuilders’ housing market index increased two points in December from a downwardly revised reading of 19 in November. This is the highest the index has been since May 2010. It is also the third straight month that the index has increased. Record-low mortgage rates, improvement in the labor market, and continued economic growth domestically were the main drivers behind December’s gain. All three component indexes also experienced increases in December. The index for present conditions increased two points to a reading of 22; the index gauging single-family home sales in the next six months increased one point to a reading of 26; and the index measuring the traffic of prospective buyers increased three points from November levels to a reading of 18.