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Which US city got the most building permits?

Using the building permits survey data, we here explore the trends in new housing construction. Every year, more than one million housing units are provided across the US. When the pandemic first started in 2020, 1,260,511 units were permitted; 64.9% single-family units and 32.1% multi-family units. Last year, the number of units with building permits increased to 1,515,637; 56.7% single-family units and 40.2% multi-family units. From these numbers, we see that more apartment buildings have begun construction and that the overall trend has made a shift from single-family housing to apartments.

Below, we show the spatial pattern in the number of units with building permission between 2019 and 2022 for 384 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). The numbers are standardized by the population. First, we present the building permits of all housing units. The Villages (FL) was ranked at the top, having 124.0 new housing units per 1,000 population. The overall pattern shows that MSAs in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Idaho have the greatest number of building permits.

The results are similar for single-housing units. The Villages (FL) ranked the top again, having more than 100 new single-family units per 1,000 population. The general pattern shows that recent single-family constructions mostly happened in the southeast part of the US, as well as some parts of the Rocky Mountain area.

When we move to multi-family housing units, Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown (TX) ranked the top, having 35.8 units per 1,000 population. Instead of large MSAs, a large number of multi-family housings are under construction in small-sized MSAs including Madison (WI), Reno (NV), Missoula (MT), Wilmington (NC), and Sioux Falls (SD).

From these trends in new housing construction, we can gain insights into the focus of private developers. One thing to note here is that the numbers are normalized by population and do not reflect the actual number of building permits. Within the next quarter, we will explore the trends in building permits from 1995 to 2022.

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