This week the U.S. Department of Commerce released residential housing construction data for September. Both new housing permits and completed units rose from their August levels, though both still remain well below their 20 year averages. As the first chart illustrates, the increase last month was a continuation of a trend that began in late 2010.
While new homes authorized by permits and new housing units completed are well off levels from the 1992 to 2006 period the spread between the two sets of data reached a level last seen November 2005 (which coincides with the peak of the housing boom). Last month, on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, there were 211,000 more new housing permits issued than housing units completed. A positive spread was the norm from 1992 to 2006, however the spread was only greater than last months 211,000 12% of the time since September 1992.
Data source: U.S. Department of Commerce: Census Bureau