An estimated 1,595,100 housing units were started in 2021, or a 15.6% increase from the 2020 figure of 1,379,600, according to the final new residential construction report of 2021 from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Privately owned housing starts in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,702,000, which is 1.4% above the revised November estimate of 1,678,000 and is 2.5% above the December 2020 rate of 1,661,000. Single‐family housing starts last month were at a rate of 1,172,000, which is 2.3% below the revised November figure of 1,199,000. The December rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 524,000.
“Today’s new residential construction report from the Census Bureau showed that housing activity ended 2021 on a strong note, with construction starts rising 1.4% over the month of December,” says Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae. “For the year, total housing starts registered at 1.6 million units, the highest annual pace since 2006. Helping drive last year’s strength was the impressive resilience of multifamily starts, which recorded its highest annual total since 1987.”
An estimated 1,337,800 housing units were completed in 2021, a 4% increase from the 2020 figure of 1,286,900. December’s housing completions were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,295,000, which is 8.7% below the revised November estimate of 1,418,000 and is 6.6% below the December 2020 rate of 1,386,000. Single‐family housing completions last month were at a rate of 990,000, or 3.9% above the revised November rate of 953,000. The December rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 299,000.
Lastly, an estimated 1,724,700 housing units were authorized by building permits in 2021, a 17.2% increase from the 2020 figure of 1,471,100. Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,873,000, which is 9.1% above the revised November rate of 1,717,000 and is 6.5% above the December 2020 rate of 1,758,000. Single‐family authorizations last month were at a rate of 1,128,000, or 2% above the revised November figure of 1,106,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 675,000.
“Looking forward to 2022, the good news for single-family product is the number of permitted but not yet started housing units is up 38.5% from the same time last year,” says Nikolas Scoolis, manager, housing economics at Zonda. “Similarly, single-family units under construction are up 26% over that same period. Both stats indicate that builders are attempting to meet the demand in the market by significantly increasing inventory despite labor and supply chain issues hindering their ability to do so.”