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California housing permits at 2nd-highest level since 2007

”Survey says” looks at various rankings and scorecards judging geographic locations while noting these grades are best seen as a mix of artful interpretation and data.

Buzz: In 2022’s first six months, California builders filed permits for the second-highest number of housing units since 2007.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet peeked at residential building permit data from the Census Bureau via the St. Louis Fed for half-year periods dating to 1988. Permits — for both ownership and rental units — are a good indicator of builders’ plans.


California ranked No. 3 in the nation with permits to build 61,842 units. Since 2007’s first half — just as the housing bubble was bursting into the Great Recession — only 2018’s first half saw more California permits filed.

Where in California are apartment rentals the hardest to find?

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But let’s look at the permitting pace in another light — the national prism. California represented 7% of the 896,000 permits filed nationally in the first half — down from the 9% share the state has had over the last 34 years.

Top permitting in the first half was found in Texas with 144,813 and Florida at 113,567. Both states doubled California. Ranking fourth was North Carolina at 49,281, followed by Georgia with 37,699.


Yes, California homebuilding has been increasing but nowhere as swiftly as much of the nation.

Compared with 2021’s first half, California permitting was up 2%, an increase ranking 29th among the states and below 4% national growth.

Tops for new permits: South Dakota, up 46%, Maryland and Nebraska, up 24%, Montana, up 23%, and New Mexico, up 21%.

Who fared worst? Pennsylvania was down 35%, then Delaware, down 28%, Rhode Island, down 21%, Kentucky, down 17%, and Tennessee, down 16%. Texas? No. 17, up 8%. Florida? No. 15, up 10%.

Then compare the pace to pre-pandemic 2015-2019. California’s first-half permitting was 15% faster, but that ranked No. 37 and trailed the 43% growth seen nationwide.

Top performers were South Dakota, up 121%, then New Mexico, up 90%, Idaho, up 83%, Montana, up 81%, and Arizona, up 80%. Worst? North Dakota, down 23%, then Illinois, down 11%, Hawaii, down 11%, Connecticut, down 10%, and the District of Columbia, down 3%. Texas? No. 8, up 63% Florida? No. 6, up 80%.

Bottom line

We could argue endlessly why California homebuilding trails the national pace.

But don’t overlook market forces in a risky business with cautious operators.

Despite the 2022 permit uptick, builders have gotten antsy in 2022. Rising mortgage rates and lofty home prices have scared off many house hunters.

Look at what industry executives are telling pollsters from the National Association of Homebuilders.

In March, Western builders were so optimistic that the NAHB’s regional confidence index was at a high that had never been reached before the pandemic began.

By July, though, the same index had crashed to a low last seen during 2020’s coronavirus lockdown.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at

Source: Orange County Register

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