The purpose of the Survey of Construction is to provide current national and regional statistics on starts, completions, and characteristics of new, privately-owned single-family and multifamily housing units and on sales of new single-family houses. The United States code, Title 13, authorizes this survey and provides for voluntary responses. The Department of Housing and Urban Development partially funds this survey.
New, privately-owned residential buildings currently authorized by a building permit or started in areas not requiring a building permit.
Data collected includes start date, completion date, sales date, sales price (single-family houses only), and physical characteristics of each housing unit, such as square footage and number of bedrooms.
Data are available monthly and annually for housing starts since 1959, for new home sales since 1963, and for completions since 1968. Reported data are for building or sales activity taking place during the applicable reference period. Monthly data collection begins the first day after the reference month and continues through the 7th working day.
To provide nationwide coverage of building activity, a multi-stage stratified random sample procedure was used to select approximately 900 building permit-issuing offices, and a sample of more than 70 land areas not covered by building permits.
Each month, for permit-issuing places, a sample of residential building permits is selected from each of the sampled permit offices. The probability of selecting a permit is proportional to the number of units authorized by the permit. Permits for one-to-four-unit buildings are sampled at an overall rate of 1 in 50. All permits authorizing buildings with 5 or more housing units in the sampled permit offices are selected.
Each month, for areas that do not require building permits, field representatives conduct a road canvass in each of the sampled non-permit land areas to identify the start of new buildings. All new residential buildings found are selected for the survey.
Once a permit or building is selected, a field representative contacts the owner or builder, by telephone or in person, to conduct the interview each month as necessary. Contact continues until the project is either completed or abandoned. If a single-family home is not sold by the time of completion, the project will continue to be followed until the sale occurs. Each month, interviews are required for about half of the buildings currently being followed up.
Each month, housing starts, completions, and sales estimates derived from this survey are adjusted by the total numbers of authorized housing units (obtained from the Building Permits Survey) to develop national and regional estimates. Estimates are adjusted to reflect variations by region and type of construction, and to account for late reports and houses started or sold before a permit has been issued. Reported data are seasonally adjusted. The Construction Methodology (PDF) document contains further information.
New Residential Construction press releases are issued on or about the 12th working day following the reference month. The reports contain the first available preliminary monthly estimates of the number of housing units started, authorized but not started, under construction, and completed. Revised figures for previous months are also included. Data are shown by type of structure at the national level and by Census Region. Quarterly data on selected characteristics of housing units started and completed are included. All data are placed on the Census website at: www.census.gov/starts.
New Residential Sales press releases are issued on or about the 17th working day following the reference month. Included are current-month estimates and revisions for previous months, for new houses sold and for sale at the national level and by Census Region, and for average and median sales prices at the national level. More detailed data on sales prices and construction price indexes are included quarterly. Construction price indexes are included monthly and quarterly. All data are placed on the Census website at: www.census.gov/newhomesales.
Detailed annual data on characteristics of housing units completed and sold, at the national level and by Census Region, are available on the Census website at: http://www.census.gov/construction/chars/index.html.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses the estimates in development of the national income and product accounts. The Federal Reserve Board and Council of Economic Advisers use the estimates to determine the condition of the economy. The Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the estimates to develop and evaluate housing programs.
Manufacturers use estimates to plan production schedules and establish market shares. Insurance companies use estimates to adjust rates and establish replacement costs. Financial institutions use data to estimate mortgage demand.
Provides two designated principal economic indicators and the most current source of data on housing starts, completions, and sales.