Housing permits jump, but housing starts plummet

Single family housing permits increased a whopping 4.9 percent from last month to 472,000 single family units, but single family housing starts plunged 9.86 percent to 457,000 units.

This chart shows, in thousands, the number of single family housing permits issued annually since 2001. Permits issued are a leading indicator for the housing market, and they spiked 4.9 percent in February.

Today’s New Residential Construction Report showed mixed results in February with single family permits increasing from January while starts declined over the same period.

Single family housing permits, the most leading of indicators, increased a whopping 4.9% from last month to 472K single family units (SAAR), and increased 23.6% above the level seen in February 2011 but remaining an astonishing 73.75% below the peak in September 2005.

Single family housing starts plunged 9.86% to 457K units (SAAR), but climbed 17.78% above the level seen in February 2011 and remaining a stunning 74.93% below the peak set in early 2006.

With the substantial headwinds of elevated unemployment, epic levels of foreclosure and delinquency, mounting bankruptcies, contracting consumer credit, and falling real wages, an overhang of inventory and still falling home prices, the environment for “organic” home sales remains weak and likely very fragile.

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