Residential building permits fall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City

December numbers also show housing starts on the rise

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Permits for new homes and apartments fell in December from the previous month in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, but housing starts rose sharply in the United States.

Nine building permits were issued in Cedar Rapids last month for single-family homes, compared with 17 in November, according to statistics provided by the city's building and trades department. No building permits were issued for multifamily projects in December, compared with a single permit in November.

Iowa City issued building permits for five new single-family homes in December, down from 11 permits issued in November. The city issued a single permit for a multifamily project last month, down from five permits issued for similar housing projects in November.

Housing starts rose a better-than-expected 12.1 percent nationally in December to a 954,000 unit pace, the fastest rate in the last four years, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Permits for new single-family homes rose 8.1 percent last month to a 616,000 unit pace.

Multifamily housing starts, which tend to vary widely from month to month, rose 20.3 percent in December.

Mark Vitner, senior economist for Wells Fargo Securities, attributed part of the upturn in housing starts nationally to builders trying to get ahead of higher building permit fees and other new regulations scheduled to take effect in early 2013.

The National Association of Home Builders has predicted that single-family home starts will rise 35 percent this year from 2012.  The forecast was based on improving economic conditions, continued low mortgage interest rates and pent-up demand.

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