New Jersey calls itself the "Garden State," and the farms that are left do produce the best tomatoes and corn on the planet. But it is also the most densely populated state. Which means that there is little land left for development, particularly in the New York and Philadelphia metro areas. Here's on a 12.5% decline in home building permits in 2016.

According to the U.S. Census, builders got permission to start 26,751 housing units in the state last year, down from 30,560 the previous year.

That’s a shift from recent trends. After construction cratered during the housing crash, home builders steadily ramped up activity for four years. That recovery was powered by multifamily construction, which made up more than 60 percent of the building activity in the last two years.

Hudson and Bergen counties have been the busiest home building markets in the state, with Jersey City leading the state in the number of building permits. Multifamily projects have been started or approved in a number of North Jersey towns, including Fort Lee, Teaneck and Hackensack. As the home-ownership rate dropped during the housing crash and recession, demand for rentals has risen.

Analysts say 2016’s slowdown has been caused in part by complicated environmental and permitting issues for many of the projects in the construction pipeline.

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