RI building permits top 1,000 for first time since Great Recession

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The number of new housing units authorized for construction in Rhode Island topped 1,000 last year for the first time since the Great Recession, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau data.

An annual Census survey shows 1,226 building permits were issued in Rhode Island in 2016, up from 998 in 2015 and a low of 700 back in 2011. However, last year’s total was still less than half the 2,836 building permits issued in Rhode Island in 2005, during the height of the housing boom.

Permits issued for new single-family homes in Rhode Island also hit a post-recession high in 2016, reaching 919, up from a low of 571 in 2011. But single-family construction too remains far slower than the pace seen in 2004, when 1,903 permits were issued for one-unit housing.

The number of building permits issued in Rhode Island each year never fell below 1,000 from 1960 to 2008, and was usually significantly higher, Census figures show. The same was true for single-family building permits through 2007.

The Rhode Island Association of Realtors says the median price of a single-family home sold by its members rose 2% in March to $235,000, compared with $206,000 in March 2015 and $175,000 in March 2012.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook