Housing Starts & Building Permits

Housing starts and building permits are leading monthly indicators of residential building activity. Building permits are issued by building departments, signaling a green light to begin construction, and they indicate future construction. Housing starts reflect the number of homes, apartment buildings or townhouses on which construction began in a given month.

U.S. Starts & Permits

In the U.S., housing starts and building permits are reported monthly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (a division of the Department of Commerce). New housing construction data are collected by the Census Bureau in a series of surveys driven mainly through permit offices.

Reports

Canadian Housing Starts

In Canada, housing starts are reported to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). CMHC is Canada’s national housing agency established as a government-owned corporation in 1946.

Reports

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find housing starts or building permit data specific to my state?

Due to its method of collecting data, the Census Bureau makes permit data available to the public, but not housing starts data. While the U.S. Census Bureau does track it, it is not made available to the public. You can buy it from the National Association of Home Builders.

What does SAAR mean?

Most housing starts data you see are shown as a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, or SAAR. Seasonally adjusted figures are helpful because they attempt to remove seasonal variations in data and allow you to easily compare figures monthly. SAAR is calculated by dividing the unadjusted annual rate for the month by its seasonality factor and creating an adjusted annual rate for the month.

I'm looking for annual housing starts from past years. Where can I find it?

The Census Bureau has a nifty list that goes back all the way to 1959!