November was a *relatively* good month for housing permits, as in, improved *relative* to most of this year, although not at the heights of last winter.
Most importantly, the least volatile number, single family permits, was flat compared with last month, and down -2% from a year ago:
There’s no change of trend here.
Total permits did increase decently, and are up (less than 1%) YoY, although below their previous highs of January, March, and April:
The improvement came in multi-unit dwellings, which had a nice pop this month:
These are somewhat of an “alternative good” to single family homes, so the improvement may well reflect the stress of higher sales and mortgage costs.
Starts, which tend to lag permits by a month or so, still reflect the poor readings of the last few months there:
Probably some of the improvement in permits in November was due to mortgage rates, which declined a little at both the beginning and end of November:
Note, however, that mortgage rates are still above where they were when we had the housing peak last winter, and prices are higher as well. So, while I expect continued improvement in December, I don’t think there’s enough of a boost to push housing to significant new highs.