Building Permits Jump 6.9% in August
New residential building permits jumped to their fastest pace in almost a year according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In August, building permits reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.543 million, surpassing the forecasted 1.440 million. This marks a 6.9% increase from July but reflects a 2.7% decrease compared to the same period last year.
Here is the opening of this morning's monthly report:
Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,543,000. This is 6.9 percent above the revised July rate of 1,443,000, but is 2.7 percent below the August 2022 rate of 1,586,000. Single‐family authorizations in August were at a rate of 949,000; this is 2.0 percent above the revised July figure of 930,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 535,000 in August. [link to report]
Background on Building Permits
Building permits track the government issuance of permits that are typically required for builders to begin construction on a new home. The data on building permits give a sense of how much and where future construction activity will take place and thus are an excellent marker of future home building. A critical aspect of the home-building industry is the powerful influence it has on the rest of the economy.
Here is the complete historical series, which dates from 1960. Because of the extreme volatility of the monthly data points, a six-month moving average has been included.
Building Permits: The Population-Adjusted Reality
Here is the data with a simple population adjustment. The Census Bureau's mid-month population estimates show substantial growth in the US population since 1960. Here is a chart of housing starts as a percent of the population. We've added a linear regression through the monthly data to highlight the trend.
Building Permits: A Footnote on Volatility
The extreme volatility of this monthly indicator is the rationale for paying more attention to its six-month moving average than to its noisy monthly change. Over the complete data series, the absolute MoM average percent change was 4.4%. The MoM range minimum was -24.0% and the maximum was 33.9%. The latest month-over-month percent change is 6.9%.
For visual confirmation of the volatility, here is a snapshot of the monthly percent change since 1960.
ETFs associated with residential real estate include: iShares Residential and Multisector Real Estate ETF (REZ).
For additional perspectives on residential real estate, here is the complete list of our monthly updates:
- S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index
- FHFA House Price Index
- NAHB Housing Market Index
- New Home Sales
- Existing Home Sales
- New Residential Housing Starts
- New Residential Building Permits
- Secular Trends in Permits and Starts
- Pending Home Sales
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