Housing Permits at 4-Year High, Builders Still Cautious

Housing permits — a future gauge for home building — reached its highest level since August 2008, rising 6.8 percent in July over the previous month, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. What’s more, building permits are up nearly 30 percent over year ago levels. Still, companies are being cautious about overbuilding. 

“While many builders believe that the outlook for housing is considerably brighter than it has been in years, we are being very careful about keeping inventories tight and not building ahead of demand,” says Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “At the same time, builders are drawing more permits for new construction so we can accommodate buyers and renters as they return to the marketplace.”

Single-family housing permits in July posted their best pace since March 2010, rising 4.5 percent last month. Meanwhile, the at-times volatile multifamily market saw permits rise 11.2 percent in July. 

While housing permits offered continued hope for a recovery in the homebuilding industry, housing starts did fall slightly in July, dropping 1.1 percent compared to June, the Census reports.

Last month, single-family housing starts dropped 6.5 percent. On the other hand, multifamily starts posted their strongest gain since February, rising 12.3 percent last month, the Census Bureau reports.