U.S. New Housing Activity Slows In May


Single-Family Authorizations Fall, Multifamily Decline Continues

[ROSEVILLE, MINN.] — The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing units authorized in the United States fell in May, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permit Survey report released this morning.

“May’s data reinforces that the multifamily sector has been hit hardest by high rates, as homebuilders in the single-family market have been able to offer buydowns and variable rate mortgages,” said Nick Erickson, executive director of Housing Affordability Institute. “The historically low rates of the past masked the scope of the rising cost of new construction, and the slowdown reinforces that policymakers at the state and local levels need to do what they can to increase affordability and lift barriers to new construction.”  

Building Permits: In May, privately owned housing units authorized by building permits were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,386,000, a 3.8% decrease from the revised April rate of 1,440,000 and a 9.5% decrease from the May 2023 rate of 1,532,000. Single-family authorizations were at a rate of 949,000, 2.9% lower than the revised April figure of 977,000. Authorizations for units in buildings with five or more units were at a rate of 382,000 in May. Year-over-year, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of total housing units authorized is down 9.5%, with single-family up 3.4% and multi-family (5+ units) down ‐31.4%.

Housing Starts: Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,277,000. This is 5.5% (±9.4%)* below the revised April estimate of 1,352,000 and 19.3% (±10.0%) below the May 2023 rate of 1,583,000. Single-family housing starts were at a rate of 982,000 in May, 5.2% (±9.9%)* below the revised April figure of 1,036,000. The rate for units in buildings with five or more units was 278,000 in May.

Housing Completions: In May, privately owned housing completions were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,514,000. This is 8.4% (±9.8%)* below the revised April estimate of 1,652,000, but 1.0% (±10.6%)* above the May 2023 rate of 1,499,000. Single-family housing completions were at a rate of 1,027,000 in May, 8.5% (±10.1%)* below the revised April rate of 1,122,000. The rate for units in buildings with five or more units was 479,000 in May.

Source: United States Census Bureau’s Building Permit Survey