United States - Residential Housing Starts

Housing starts picked up slightly in July, increasing 0.9% above the revised June total, but still 1.4% below the July 2017 level of housing starts. The increase in starts was led by the South and the Midwest, with the Northeast and the West seeing starts slightly lower. Building permits did better, increasing for the month and year over year, so while construction has leveled off for the moment, it looks more likely to pick up again than to go into near-term decline.





United States: Residential Housing Starts

Mnemonic HSTR.IUSA
Unit Ths. #, SAAR
Adjustments Seasonally Adjusted at Annual Rate
Monthly 0.86 %
Data Jul 2018 1,168
Jun 2018 1,158

Series Information

Source U.S. Census Bureau (BOC)
Release New Residential Construction (C20) - Permits, Starts and Completions
Frequency Monthly
Start Date 1/31/1959
End Date 7/31/2018

United States: Real Estate

Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Building Completions Jul 2018 1,188 1,209 Ths., SAAR Monthly
House Price Value for Existing Homes Jul 2018 259.39 257.24 Ths. USD, SA Monthly
House Price Value for New Homes Jul 2018 332,801 312,314 $, SA Monthly
Residential Building Permits Jul 2018 1,303 1,292 Ths. #, SAAR Monthly
Residential Housing Starts Jul 2018 1,168 1,158 Ths. #, SAAR Monthly
House Price Index 2018 Q2 424.05 414.22 Index 1980Q1=100, NSA Quarterly
Dwelling Stocks 2017 137,403 136,312 Ths. # Annual

Residential Housing Starts Definition

A housing start occurs when excavation begins for the footings or foundation of a building. All housing units in a multifamily building are defined as being started when this excavation begins. Beginning with data for September 1992, estimates of housing starts include units in structures being totally rebuilt on an existing foundation.


Release Information

The purpose of the New Residential Construction press release is to provide statistics on the construction of new privately-owned residential structures in the United States. Data included in the press release are (1) the number of new housing units authorized by building permits; (2) the number of housing units authorized to be built, but not yet started; (3) the number of housing units started; (4) the number of housing units under construction; and (5) the number of housing units completed.

The data relate to new housing units intended for occupancy and maintained by the occupants. They exclude hotels, motels, and group residential structures such as nursing homes and college dormitories. Also excluded are "HUD-code" manufactured (mobile) home units.

DEFINITIONS

New Residential Construction

The category of statistics called "New Residential Construction" consists of data on the five phases of a residential construction project. This is housing units authorized to be built by a building or zoning permit; housing units authorized to be built, but not yet started; housing units started; housing units under construction; and housing units completed. New residential construction statistics exclude group quarters (such as dormitories and rooming houses), transient accommodations (such as transient hotels, motels, and tourist courts), "HUD-code" manufactured (mobile) homes, moved or relocated buildings, and housing units created in an existing residential or nonresidential structure. However, in a new building combining residential and nonresidential floor areas, every effort is made to include the residential units in these statistics, even though the primary function of the entire building is for nonresidential purposes. These statistics only include privately-owned buildings. Publicly owned housing units are excluded from the statistics. Units in structures built by private developers with partial public subsidies or which are for sale upon completion to local public housing authorities under the HUD "Turnkey" program are all classified as private housing.

Housing Unit

A housing unit, as defined for purposes of this report, is a house, an apartment, a group of rooms or a single room intended for occupancy as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live separately from any other individuals in the building and which have a direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. In accordance with this definition, each apartment unit in an apartment building is counted as one housing unit. Housing units, as distinguished from "HUD-code" manufactured (mobile) homes, include conventional "site-built" units, prefabricated, panelized, componentized, sectional, and modular units. Housing unit statistics in these tables exclude group quarters (such as dormitories and rooming houses), transient accommodations (such as transient hotels, motels, and tourist courts), "HUD-code" manufactured (mobile) homes, moved or relocated units, and housing units created in an existing residential or nonresidential structure.

"HUD-code" Manufactured (mobile) Homes

A manufactured home is defined as a movable dwelling, 8 feet or more wide and 40 feet or more long, designed to be towed on its own chassis, with transportation gear integral to the unit when it leaves the factory, and without need of a permanent foundation. These homes are built in accordance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) building code. Since these units are typically not covered by the building permits issued in local municipalities, they are excluded from the New Residential Construction statistics.

Building Permits

Statistics on housing units authorized by building permits include housing units issued in local permit-issuing jurisdictions by a building or zoning permit. Not all areas of the country require a building or zoning permit. The statistics only represent those areas that do require a permit. Current surveys indicate that construction is undertaken for all but a very small percentage of housing units authorized by building permits. A major portion typically get under way during the month of permit issuance and most of the remainder begin within the three following months. Because of this lag, the housing unit authorization statistics do not represent the number of units actually put into construction for the period shown, and should therefore not be directly interpreted as "housing starts."

Housing Units Authorized, but Not Started

Estimates of housing units authorized by a building or zoning permit, but not yet started, are shown in the "authorized, not started" data series. These only represent the areas of the country that require a building or zoning permit.

Housing Starts

The start of construction is when excavation begins for the footings or foundation of a building. All housing units in a multifamily building are defined as being started when excavation for the building has begun. Beginning with statistics for September 1992, estimates of housing starts include units in residential structures being totally rebuilt on an existing foundation. Housing starts are estimated for all areas of the United States, regardless of whether permits are required.

Housing Units Under Construction

Estimates of housing units started, but not yet completed, are shown in the "under construction" data series. Housing units under construction are estimated for all areas of the United States, regardless of whether permits are required.

Housing Completions

One-unit structures are defined as completed when all finished flooring has been installed. If the building is occupied before all construction is finished, it is classified as completed at the time of occupancy. In buildings with two or more housing units, all the units in the building are counted as completed when 50 percent or more of the units are occupied or available for occupancy. Housing completions are estimated for all areas of the United States, regardless of whether permits are required.

Residential Building

A residential building is a building consisting primarily of housing units. In a new building combining residential and nonresidential floor areas, every effort is made to include the residential units in these statistics, even though the primary function of the entire building is for nonresidential purposes.

Type of Structure, including Attached and Detached Housing Units

The statistics, by type of structure, refer to the structural characteristics of the building. The one-unit structure category includes fully detached, semi-detached (semi-attached, side-by-side), row houses, and townhouses. In the case of attached units, each must be separated from the adjacent unit by a ground-to-roof wall in order to be classified as a one-unit structure. Also, these units must not share heating/air-conditioning systems or interstructural public utilities, such as water supply, power supply, or sewage disposal lines. Units built one on top of another and those built side-by-side which do not have a ground-to-roof wall and/or have common facilities (i.e., attic, basement, heating plant, plumbing, etc.) are classified by the number of units in the structure (i.e., two-unit structure, three-unit structure, etc.). In these statistics, apartment buildings are defined as buildings containing five units or more. Apartments in a conventional-type apartment building may share a common basement, heating plant, stairs, entrance halls, and water supply and sewage disposal facilities. Townhouse apartments, though attached, are not separated by a ground-to-roof wall and/or share some interstructural facilities, such as water supply, sewage disposal, etc.

Ownership

Ownership is not the criterion for structural classifications in this report. A condominium apartment building is classified with apartment buildings in structures with five units or more, despite the fact that each unit is individually owned. Condominium townhouses may be in the one-unit category if each unit is separated from its neighbor by a ground-to-roof wall (no commonly shared interstructural facilities), or in the multiunit building categories if they are not separated from each other by a ground-to-roof wall (share interstructural facilities).

SOURCE OF DATA

Housing Units Authorized by Building Permits

Statistics are based upon reports submitted by local building permit officials in response to a mail survey. Approximately 9,000 of the 20,000 permit issuing places in the United States are surveyed monthly and the remainder are surveyed annually. The data are obtained using Form C-404, "Report of New Privately-Owned Residential Building or Zoning Permits Issued." When a report is not received, missing data are either (1) obtained from the Survey of Use of Permits (SUP) which is used to collect information on housing starts, or (2) imputed. Data for SUP are available only for about 900 places for which Census Bureau field representatives list permits (see more information below.) Imputations are based on the assumption that the ratio of current month authorizations to those of a year ago should be the same for reporting and nonreporting places.

Housing Units Authorized, but Not Started; Housing Starts; Housing Units Under Construction; and Housing Completions

Estimates of Housing Units Authorized, but Not Started; Housing Starts; Housing Units Under Construction; and Housing Completions are all obtained from the Survey of Construction (SOC). SOC is comprised of two parts: (1) Survey of Use of Permits (SUP) which estimates the amount of new construction in areas that require a building permit and (2) Non-permit Survey (NP) which estimates the amount of new construction in areas that do not require a building permit. Less than 3 percent of all new construction takes place in non-permit areas. Data from both parts of SOC are collected by Census field representatives. For SUP they visit a sample of permit offices and select a sample of permits issued for new housing. These permits are then followed through to see when they are started, completed and sold if the one-family unit was built to be sold. Each project is also surveyed to collect information on characteristics of the structure. For NP, roads in sampled non-permit land areas are driven at least once every three months to see if there is any new construction. Once new residential construction is found, it is followed up the same as in SUP.

The Census field representatives use interviewing software on laptop computers to collect the data. Facsimiles of the computer-based questionnaires are provided to respondents to familiarize them with the survey. These facsimiles show the questions that are asked for housing units in single-family buildings Form SOC-QI/SF.1 and in multiunit buildings Form SOC-QI/MF.1. In addition, the Census field representatives include an introductory letter with the forms explaining the survey.

Each month the US Census Bureau publishes preliminary estimates of Building Permits, Housing Starts, Housing Completions. The US Census Bureau releases these estimates to provide government and private data users with early measures of new privately owned residential construction and new residential sales activity. A necessary part of the process of issuing these early data involves the issuance of subsequent revisions. The revisions are primarily the result of the replacement of imputed data with data which are reported in subsequent months.

GEOGRAPHIC COVERAGE

Most statistics in the New Residential Construction release are tabulated only for the United States and four Census Regions. The SOC does not have a large enough sample size to make state or local area estimates. The only series that is available at a smaller geographic area is the housing units authorized by building permits. Building permit data are collected from individual permit offices, most of which are municipalities; the remainder are counties, townships, or New England and Middle Atlantic-type towns. Since building permits are public records, local area data are available without any confidentiality problems. From local area data, estimates are tabulated for Counties, States, and Metropolitan Areas.