Highlights. New house starts are just 3.5% below their 60-year average indicating market equilibrium despite a brief dip in early 2020.
- There were 1.4 million new house starts in 2020.
- 72% of new house starts were single family housing.
- 11 million new houses have broken ground since 2010.
- New house starts represent 95.2% of housing permits.
New Housing Starts by Year
Last year saw the most new privately owned residential construction starts since 2006.
- 1.38 million total new privately owned housing starts began in 2020.
- 1.45 million total housing permits were issued.
- 27.3% of housing starts in 2020 were buildings of 5-or-more units.
- 71.8% of new housing was single family homes.
- New house starts increased 7.0% between 2019 and 2020.
- An average of 1.03 million housing units have gone up each year since 2010.
- New starts are up 148.7% from 2009, the industry’s lowest point in 60 years.
- The most dramatic annual decrease in housing starts was in 2009, when new house starts fell 35.6% from the previous year.
- 2008 itself was the second-most dramatic plunge with new house starts down 35.3% from 2007.
- The 60-year median is 1.15 million annual new house starts.
- 1.43 million is the 60-year average annual new house starts.
New Housing Starts by Month
New house starts or new housing starts refer to residential construction projects that have broken ground. Most of the data in this report has not been seasonally adjusted.
- In seasonally adjusted statistics, the busiest month (July) sees 41% more house starts than the slowest time of year (April).
- Seasonal adjustment accounts for seasonal peaks and valleys in the real estate construction market.
- Seasonally adjusted new housing statistics more accurately reflect current real estate market health.
Non-Seasonally Adjusted Housing Starts
Non-seasonally adjusted statistics reflect the true number of buildings going up.
- In data that has not undergone seasonal adjustment, December was the busiest month of 2020.
- New privately owned housing starts average 115,000 monthly.
- An average of 121,800 new housing permits are authorized monthly.
- Housing units are completed at an average rate of 107,600 per month.
Housing Starts by Location
Among regional housing starts, the South produces the highest rate of single family homes.
- 75.2% of Southern housing starts are single family.
- 54.9% of Northeastern homes are single family, giving it the lowest rate of single family home builds.
- 71.0% of Midwestern new housing starts and 70.6% of Western homes are single family.
|Region||Total Starts||Single Family|
Housing Starts by Division
The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) localize and chart certain data variables once per decade. Each year sees another set of variables’ decennial localized data.
- New England saw the largest 10-year change, seeing 1.85% fewer new housing starts in 2014 than in 2004.
- West South Central’s market improved the most with a 1.73% increase over that decade.
- 55.6% of divisions saw a decennial change greater than 1.00%.
|Division||Starts 2014||Change From 2004|
|East North Central||89.0K||+0.15%|
|West North Central||76.2K||+1.32%|
|East South Central||58.1K||+1.27%|
|West South Central||207K||+1.73%|
Housing Starts by State
Statistics indicate that most states and territories have steady real estate and construction industries.
- In Alaska, there is a 1,109% difference between the number of buildings started in 2014 and the number of permits authorized in 2019.
- In North Dakota, the difference between 2014 starts and 2019 permits is -80.2%.
- 79.2% of markets changed by less than 1.00% between 2004 and 2014.
- Alaska’s market saw the most dramatic change among all states and territories with the rate of new housing construction starts dropping by 8.63% over 10 years.
|State||2014 Starts||2019 Permits|
|District of Columbia||4.19K||5.95K|
Housing Starts by Building Type
- Single family homes make up 71.8% of new housing starts.
- Multi-family homes or those with 2 to 4 units make up 3.23% of new housing.
- Homes with 5 units or more make up 27.2% of new housing starts.
Other New Housing Statistics
The annual number of single family housing starts has increased every year since 2011.
- 87.5% of single family homes are detached.
- 75.3% are built with the intent to sell.
- Among multi-unit residential buildings, 5.97% are built with the intent to sell.
- The average single family home has more than twice the floor space of the average apartment.
- 85.6% of new apartment housing is in buildings with 20 units or more.
- 6.19% of single family homes are built by the owner.
|Single Family||Built for Rental||219K|
|Average Size||2,498 ft2|
|Multi-Family||Built for Sale||24K|
|Built for Rental||378K|
|Average Unit Size||1,115 ft2|
*2020 data will likely be unavailable until 2022
New Pending Housing
A building may be listed as “pending” indefinitely, making it difficult to gauge the efficiency of the construction industry based on the number of projects alone.
- 80% of single family housing projects begin within 8 weeks of authorization.
- 43% of single family projects break ground within a month of authorization.
- 6.1% don’t break ground for 4 months or more.
- In buildings with 2 units or more, 19% don’t break ground for 4 months or more.
- Buildings with 10 or more units are the most likely to take longer; 22% don’t break ground within 4 months of authorization.
- Buildings that take longer to break ground are more likely to be owner-built.
*Housing permits have been authorized but projects have not broken ground.
New Completed Housing
Logically, the more units a building includes, the longer it takes to complete. Buildings with 10+ units take at least 3 months from the time ground is broken until the project is deemed complete.
- Average construction time nationwide is 7 months for single family homes and 15 months for multi-unit projects.
- Single family construction averages over 11 months in the Northeast.
- 47% of single family homes take 4-6 months to complete.
- 9% of single family homes take 13 months or more.
- 60% of multi-unit projects take 13 months or more.
- 39% of 2- to 4-unit projects take 13 months or more.
- 21% take 6 months or less.