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California housing starts up 10% on multifamily strength

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California housing starts rose 10% in September from a year earlier as apartment and condominium construction surged, offsetting a decline in single-family homes, according to data from the California Building Industry Association.

Permits for single-family homes fell 16% from September 2010, totaling 1,463, while multifamily permits rose 45% from a year earlier, to 1,828, statistics compiled by the Construction Industry Research Board show.

Permits for both single-family and multifamily housing declined on a month-over-month basis, falling 25% and 41% respectively, consistent with seasonal changes for this time of year.

“Tough economic conditions, rising impact fees, tight credit and ever-increasing regulations continue to keep California’s homebuilding levels at record lows, which is not a great place to be if we want to begin to make a dent in unemployment and jump-start a significant economic recovery,” said Mike Winn, CBIA’s president and CEO.

For the first three quarters of the year, permits were pulled for 34,386 total units, a 6% increase from the same time period a year ago, when 32,368 permits were issued.

As was the case this year, all of that growth came from the multifamily sector, which saw permits jump 37%. Permits for single-family homes, on the other hand, fell 15%.

The construction research board is projecting that single-family permits will hit a record low this year. The forecasted total of 21,500 would the lowest since the board began tracking permits in 1954.

About 24,500 multifamily permits will be pulled over the course of the year, bringing total housing permits to 46,000, the board projects. That would mark an increase from the 44,762 permits pulled in 2010, but a decline from the 64,962 in 2008.

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