Building Booms and Busts: Where Housing Construction Is Up, and Where It's Slowing Down

In many cities, new homes are popping up twice as fast as normal.
by | March 13, 2019 AT 1:58 PM
(Shutterstock)

Lance Olive, the mayor of Apex, N.C., can remember when just a few thousand people lived in his city. But those days are long gone.

Today, his city of just over 50,000 outside of Raleigh now finds itself in the middle of a major construction boom. Last year, Apex issued construction permits for a record-high of more than 2,200 new housing units -- the highest per capita for any city of at least its size in the country.

It’s one of many mostly suburban cities adding new housing units at a rapid pace. To gauge where development is intensifying, Governing compiled the most recent residential construction permitting data reported to the Census Bureau for cities with populations exceeding 50,000. Overall, the numbers were similar to 2017 levels, with most still exceeding their historical averages.

The suburbs and exurbs in the hottest housing markets stand out with especially high permitting rates. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it’s the suburb of Frisco. East of Seattle, Redmond issued permits for 341 units per 10,000 population. Posting similar rates were Georgetown, Texas, just outside of Austin; and Buckeye, Ariz., near Phoenix.

This mirrors broader trends as Americans have increasingly migrated from urban to suburban areas.

For Apex, the steady expansion began decades ago. Then in 2015, Money magazine named the city the best place to live, leading even more people to move there.

“We have a desirable place to live, and we're watching the economy closely,” Mayor Olive says. “We’ve seen people come from pretty much everywhere.”

Along with a lot of families from the Northeast, the city has also welcomed many retirees relocating from Florida, know as “halfbacks.” Over the past two decades, the population of Apex has roughly tripled.

As in other places, though, all the development hasn’t come without growing pains.

The city hired additional housing staff to keep up with demand and to minimize a permitting backlog. Some builders, feeling pressure to move quickly, submit incomplete plans or request inspections before construction is complete. Olive says residents’ top concern has centered on all the additional traffic, so Apex officials are working with the state transportation department to widen and improve area roadways.

After Apex, the cities issuing permits for the most units per capita were Fort Myers, Fla., and Doral, Fla.

 

Cities Building the Most

City 2018 Units Per 10K 2018 Units Permitted Population
Apex, North Carolina 444.2 2,241 50,451
Fort Myers, Florida 347.4 2,777 79,943
Doral, Florida 345.5 2,112 61,130
Redmond, Washington 341.1 2,193 64,291
Georgetown, Texas 322.3 2,278 70,685
Buckeye, Arizona 320.5 2,194 68,453
Meridian, Idaho 314.3 3,141 99,926
Bonita Springs, Florida 274.7 1,541 56,088
Frisco, Texas 271.2 4,808 177,286
New Braunfels, Texas 244.0 1,931 79,152
Castle Rock, Colorado 240.7 1,499 62,276
Bowling Green, Kentucky 232.0 1,556 67,067
Lehi, Utah 213.8 1,341 62,712
Milpitas, California 202.7 1,583 78,106
Murfreesboro, Tennessee 201.7 2,750 136,372
McKinney, Texas 193.2 3,503 181,330
St. Cloud, Florida 187.2 960 51,282
Conroe, Texas 185.0 1,561 84,378
Bradenton, Florida 181.2 1,024 56,508
Goodyear, Arizona 166.8 1,332 79,858
Edinburg, Texas 159.8 1,443 90,280
South Jordan, Utah 159.4 1,131 70,954
Parker, Colorado 159.2 863 54,202
Brookhaven, Georgia 157.9 845 53,518
Greenville, South Carolina 156.0 1,064 68,219
Port St. Lucie, Florida 155.4 2,943 189,344
St. George, Utah 155.1 1,309 84,405
Grapevine, Texas 146.3 790 53,982
Ankeny, Iowa 142.6 890 62,416
Cape Coral, Florida 141.8 2,601 183,365
Austin, Texas 139.7 13,283 950,715
Commerce City, Colorado 135.7 759 55,923
Atlanta, Georgia 133.6 6,496 486,290
Reno, Nevada 130.0 3,234 248,853
Dublin, California 129.0 786 60,939
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 127.3 1,103 86,668
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 127.1 644 50,665
Champaign, Illinois 126.6 1,107 87,432
Henderson, Nevada 125.0 3,783 302,539
Franklin, Tennessee 124.6 976 78,321
Irvine, California 122.9 3,410 277,453
Rochester, Minnesota 122.3 1,415 115,733
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 119.9 718 59,862
Caldwell, Idaho 118.0 645 54,660
Nampa, Idaho 116.4 1,089 93,590
North Charleston, South Carolina 115.5 1,280 110,861
Broomfield, Colorado 114.9 785 68,341
Denton, Texas 113.9 1,552 136,268
Longmont, Colorado 113.1 1,067 94,341
Pflugerville, Texas 113.0 716 63,359
Bayonne, New Jersey 112.7 757 67,186
Sioux Falls, South Dakota 112.0 1,981 176,888
Denver, Colorado 111.8 7,878 704,621
Temple, Texas 111.3 829 74,503
Overland Park, Kansas 110.4 2,111 191,278
Sanford, Florida 110.1 653 59,317
Orlando, Florida 109.9 3,079 280,257
Seattle, Washington 109.3 7,918 724,745
St. Peters, Missouri 108.1 618 57,178
Menifee, California 107.7 976 90,595
Cedar Park, Texas 107.1 811 75,704
Fort Worth, Texas 106.5 9,310 874,168
Auburn, Alabama 106.0 678 63,973
Surprise, Arizona 105.5 1,415 134,085
Kissimmee, Florida 105.3 749 71,104
Palm Coast, Florida 105.1 909 86,516
Allen, Texas 104.7 1,054 100,685
Rowlett, Texas 102.8 646 62,868
Sarasota, Florida 102.3 583 56,994
Nashville, Tennessee 102.3 6,828 667,560
Richardson, Texas 101.6 1,187 116,783
Clovis, California 100.9 1,107 109,691
Folsom, California 100.6 785 78,038
Mansfield, Texas 100.5 693 68,928
Miami, Florida 99.8 4,625 463,347
Chino, California 99.2 891 89,797
Fargo, North Dakota 98.9 1,210 122,359
West Des Moines, Iowa 98.3 645 65,608
Lewisville, Texas 98.1 1,040 106,021
Warner Robins, Georgia 97.8 732 74,854
Woodbury, Minnesota 97.8 682 69,756
Bend, Oregon 97.1 918 94,520
Santa Rosa, California 97.1 1,701 175,269
Noblesville, Indiana 96.5 597 61,882
Tempe, Arizona 95.2 1,761 185,038
Apple Valley, Minnesota 95.0 498 52,435
Lakeville, Minnesota 94.7 604 63,748
Cary, North Carolina 94.2 1,562 165,904
Portland, Oregon 92.3 5,979 647,805
Jersey City, New Jersey 92.0 2,491 270,753
College Station, Texas 90.8 1,031 113,564
Oakland, California 90.7 3,856 425,195
Raleigh, North Carolina 90.6 4,211 464,758
Rocklin, California 90.2 585 64,838
Midland, Texas 89.8 1,222 136,089
Carrollton, Texas 89.1 1,209 135,710
Bryan, Texas 87.5 735 84,021
Minneapolis, Minnesota 85.8 3,625 422,331
Peoria, Arizona 84.9 1,428 168,181
Grand Prairie, Texas 84.5 1,638 193,837
Lake Charles, Louisiana 84.4 651 77,117
Fremont, California 83.8 1,969 234,962
Kennewick, Washington 83.2 679 81,607
Fayetteville, Arkansas 82.2 701 85,257
Carmel, Indiana 82.1 757 92,198
Bellingham, Washington 80.6 718 89,045
Round Rock, Texas 79.9 988 123,678
Jacksonville, Florida 78.5 7,003 892,062
Lake Havasu City, Arizona 78.1 425 54,411
Camarillo, California 77.8 528 67,845
Loveland, Colorado 77.2 592 76,701
Fishers, Indiana 76.0 698 91,832
North Las Vegas, Nevada 75.7 1,840 242,975
Ontario, California 75.4 1,326 175,841
Flower Mound, Texas 75.0 575 76,681
Valdosta, Georgia 74.4 417 56,085
Gilbert, Arizona 73.8 1,789 242,354
Lawrence, Kansas 73.7 714 96,892
Tulare, California 73.0 466 63,855
Blue Springs, Missouri 72.6 399 54,945
Alpharetta, Georgia 72.2 475 65,799
Southaven, Mississippi 72.2 390 54,031
Aurora, Colorado 71.3 2,615 366,623
Maple Grove, Minnesota 70.4 500 71,066
Boulder, Colorado 69.7 747 107,125
Thornton, Colorado 69.4 951 136,978
Tigard, Oregon 69.2 368 53,148
Edina, Minnesota 69.1 359 51,958
Suffolk, Virginia 68.9 622 90,237
Pearland, Texas 68.2 818 119,940
Gilroy, California 67.8 391 57,664
Huntsville, Alabama 67.4 1,312 194,585
Lenexa, Kansas 67.2 360 53,553
Washington, District of Columbia 66.5 4,615 693,972
Manteca, California 66.1 524 79,268
Ames, Iowa 66.0 439 66,498
Sparks, Nevada 65.8 664 100,888
Oak Park, Illinois 65.6 343 52,261
Billings, Montana 65.5 718 109,642
Las Cruces, New Mexico 65.5 666 101,712
Fort Collins, Colorado 64.9 1,071 165,080
Shoreline, Washington 64.8 364 56,189
Chula Vista, California 64.7 1,751 270,471
Bellevue, Washington 64.0 924 144,444
Eden Prairie, Minnesota 63.5 409 64,400
Vancouver, Washington 63.4 1,114 175,673
Missoula, Montana 63.0 462 73,340
Rapid City, South Dakota 62.9 468 74,421
Lubbock, Texas 62.1 1,576 253,888
Omaha, Nebraska 61.8 2,887 466,893
Lake Elsinore, California 61.4 408 66,411
Palm Bay, Florida 61.3 684 111,657
Clarksville, Tennessee 61.2 938 153,205
Layton, Utah 61.0 468 76,691
Mountain View, California 60.8 495 81,438
West Jordan, Utah 60.4 688 113,905
Killeen, Texas 60.1 875 145,482
Dallas, Texas 60.0 8,047 1,341,075
Roseville, California 59.7 808 135,329
Odessa, Texas 59.2 692 116,861
Moreno Valley, California 59.2 1,226 207,226
Richland, Washington 58.9 331 56,243
San Francisco, California 58.6 5,178 884,363
Summerville, South Carolina 58.3 294 50,388
McAllen, Texas 57.9 826 142,696
Houston, Texas 57.2 13,237 2,312,717
Cheyenne, Wyoming 56.7 361 63,624
Carson City, Nevada 56.6 310 54,745
Madison, Wisconsin 56.5 1,443 255,214
Lee's Summit, Missouri 56.3 548 97,290
Medford, Oregon 55.8 456 81,780
West Palm Beach, Florida 55.7 614 110,222
Orem, Utah 55.7 545 97,839
Greenwood, Indiana 55.4 318 57,375
Spokane Valley, Washington 55.4 542 97,847
Santa Clara, California 55.2 702 127,134
Millcreek, Utah 55.2 332 60,192
Pinellas Park, Florida 54.7 289 52,854
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 54.6 1,335 244,605
Edmond, Oklahoma 53.0 487 91,950
Boston, Massachusetts 52.6 3,602 685,094
Chandler, Arizona 52.5 1,331 253,458
Brentwood, California 52.2 326 62,433
Flagstaff, Arizona 52.1 375 71,975
Missouri City, Texas 51.8 386 74,497
Sunnyvale, California 51.7 794 153,656
Lakewood, Washington 51.6 311 60,296
Des Plaines, Illinois 51.6 300 58,193
Sandy Springs, Georgia 51.2 546 106,739
Lakewood, Colorado 51.1 792 154,958
Greeley, Colorado 51.0 538 105,448
Yuma, Arizona 51.0 487 95,502
Apopka, Florida 50.8 262 51,564
Salem, Oregon 50.7 861 169,798
Marysville, Washington 50.1 345 68,864
Eugene, Oregon 49.4 834 168,916
Homestead, Florida 49.1 343 69,907
Hendersonville, Tennessee 49.0 282 57,517
Mission, Texas 48.7 411 84,424
Tacoma, Washington 48.4 1,033 213,418
Chico, California 48.1 449 93,293
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 48.1 3,097 643,648
Vista, California 47.8 485 101,568
Plymouth, Minnesota 47.7 374 78,395
Delano, California 47.6 253 53,138
Murrieta, California 47.3 536 113,326
Bossier City, Louisiana 47.0 322 68,554
Davis, California 47.0 324 68,986
Scottsdale, Arizona 46.7 1,167 249,950
Clearwater, Florida 46.5 537 115,513
Tampa, Florida 46.4 1,788 385,430
Sacramento, California 46.3 2,324 501,901
Joplin, Missouri 46.1 241 52,288
Idaho Falls, Idaho 45.7 279 61,076
Casa Grande, Arizona 45.4 252 55,477
Sammamish, Washington 45.4 293 64,548
Minnetonka, Minnesota 45.2 240 53,085
Pocatello, Idaho 44.8 247 55,193
Phoenix, Arizona 44.7 7,262 1,626,078
St. Charles, Missouri 44.4 312 70,329
Walnut Creek, California 44.3 309 69,773
Gastonia, North Carolina 44.3 339 76,593
Coon Rapids, Minnesota 44.2 277 62,656
Kansas City, Missouri 44.1 2,154 488,943
Waco, Texas 43.6 595 136,436
Visalia, California 43.4 577 133,010
Chesapeake, Virginia 42.9 1,031 240,397
Arvada, Colorado 42.7 507 118,807
Iowa City, Iowa 42.3 321 75,798
Grand Forks, North Dakota 42.1 240 57,056
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma 42.0 455 108,303
Columbus, Ohio 42.0 3,693 879,170
Bismarck, North Dakota 42.0 306 72,865
Albany, Oregon 41.9 224 53,503
Tyler, Texas 41.6 437 104,991
Owensboro, Kentucky 41.6 247 59,404
Woodland, California 41.5 249 60,012
Johnson City, Tennessee 41.1 273 66,391
Grand Rapids, Michigan 40.9 814 198,829
Los Angeles, California 40.7 16,299 3,999,759
Elk Grove, California 40.3 693 171,844
Lakeland, Florida 40.3 435 108,054
Blaine, Minnesota 40.1 259 64,557
Logan, Utah 39.7 203 51,115
Arlington, Texas 39.5 1,566 396,394
Provo, Utah 38.9 457 117,335
Naperville, Illinois 38.7 572 147,682
Hoboken, New Jersey 38.6 213 55,131
Ocala, Florida 38.6 228 59,110
St. Petersburg, Florida 38.1 1,003 263,255
Corvallis, Oregon 37.4 217 57,961
Pasadena, California 36.7 524 142,647
Chattanooga, Tennessee 36.5 654 179,139
Eau Claire, Wisconsin 36.5 250 68,587
Collierville, Tennessee 36.4 183 50,286
Galveston, Texas 36.2 183 50,497
O'Fallon, Missouri 36.2 317 87,597
Boynton Beach, Florida 36.2 281 77,702
Indio, California 36.0 323 89,793
Columbia, South Carolina 35.8 477 133,114
Dothan, Alabama 35.8 244 68,202
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 35.7 472 132,228
Kokomo, Indiana 35.6 206 57,836
Euless, Texas 35.5 196 55,174
Corona, California 35.5 596 167,836
Pembroke Pines, Florida 35.3 602 170,712
Livermore, California 35.2 318 90,295
New Haven, Connecticut 35.1 460 131,014
Richmond, California 35.1 386 110,040
Nashua, New Hampshire 35.0 309 88,341
Smyrna, Georgia 34.9 198 56,685
Hillsboro, Oregon 34.6 370 106,894
Pharr, Texas 34.3 273 79,487
Rock Hill, South Carolina 34.2 250 73,068
La Crosse, Wisconsin 34.0 176 51,834
Marietta, Georgia 33.3 203 61,048
North Richland Hills, Texas 33.2 234 70,441
San Antonio, Texas 33.2 5,017 1,511,946
Norman, Oklahoma 33.1 407 122,843
Moore, Oklahoma 33.0 203 61,523
Amarillo, Texas 32.8 656 199,826
Shawnee, Kansas 32.8 215 65,513
Santa Fe, New Mexico 32.6 273 83,776
Knoxville, Tennessee 32.5 609 187,347
El Paso, Texas 32.3 2,209 683,577
Port Orange, Florida 32.1 203 63,203
San Diego, California 31.4 4,452 1,419,516
Gresham, Oregon 31.3 348 111,053
Las Vegas, Nevada 30.7 1,973 641,676
Fort Smith, Arkansas 30.6 269 88,037
Pompano Beach, Florida 30.4 336 110,473
Deerfield Beach, Florida 30.2 243 80,571
Hesperia, California 29.8 283 94,859
Rancho Cordova, California 29.5 217 73,563
Chino Hills, California 29.2 235 80,374
South San Francisco, California 29.2 197 67,429
Greensboro, North Carolina 29.2 846 290,222
West Sacramento, California 28.6 153 53,512
Springdale, Arkansas 28.5 227 79,599
Bellevue, Nebraska 28.3 151 53,424
Lake Forest, California 28.1 237 84,293
Olympia, Washington 28.1 145 51,609
Plantation, Florida 28.0 263 93,909
Avondale, Arizona 27.6 232 84,025
Frederick, Maryland 27.4 196 71,408
San Jose, California 27.4 2,836 1,035,317
Savannah, Georgia 27.2 399 146,444
Madera, California 27.2 178 65,508
Santee, California 27.0 157 58,113
Fairfield, California 27.0 314 116,266
Weymouth Town, Massachusetts 27.0 153 56,664
Abilene, Texas 26.8 327 121,885
Deltona, Florida 26.7 242 90,746
San Marcos, California 26.6 256 96,198
Indianapolis, Indiana 26.5 2,286 863,002
Taylorsville, Utah 26.3 158 59,992
Des Moines, Iowa 26.3 571 217,521
Melbourne, Florida 26.2 215 82,011
San Angelo, Texas 26.2 262 100,119
DeSoto, Texas 26.1 140 53,568
El Monte, California 25.7 298 116,109
Yorba Linda, California 25.6 175 68,229
Springfield, Missouri 25.6 429 167,376
Renton, Washington 25.5 259 101,379
Springfield, Illinois 25.5 293 114,868
Burnsville, Minnesota 25.4 156 61,439
Baltimore, Maryland 25.3 1,547 611,648
Longview, Texas 25.0 204 81,522
Johns Creek, Georgia 25.0 211 84,350
Plano, Texas 24.9 712 286,143
Encinitas, California 24.8 157 63,184
Margate, Florida 24.8 145 58,430
Richmond, Virginia 24.8 563 227,032
Novi, Michigan 24.6 147 59,715
Yakima, Washington 24.6 230 93,667
Palm Desert, California 24.4 129 52,932
Norfolk, Virginia 24.4 596 244,703
New York, New York 24.2 20,910 8,622,698
Cincinnati, Ohio 24.2 730 301,301
Centennial, Colorado 24.0 265 110,250
High Point, North Carolina 24.0 268 111,513
Sandy, Utah 23.9 230 96,145
Everett, Washington 23.8 262 110,079
Beaumont, Texas 23.8 283 119,114
Little Rock, Arkansas 23.7 470 198,606
Springfield, Oregon 23.6 147 62,353
Fontana, California 23.5 498 211,815
Pensacola, Florida 23.2 122 52,590
Chicago, Illinois 23.0 6,258 2,716,450
Jackson, Tennessee 22.9 153 66,847
Irving, Texas 22.9 550 240,373
Carlsbad, California 22.6 261 115,330
Roswell, Georgia 22.0 209 94,786
Vacaville, California 22.0 220 100,032
Hollywood, Florida 21.7 334 153,627
San Ramon, California 21.7 165 75,931
Columbia, Missouri 21.6 263 121,717
Leesburg, Virginia 21.6 117 54,215
St. Louis, Missouri 21.4 661 308,626
Elyria, Ohio 21.3 115 53,883
Oceanside, California 21.3 375 176,193
Elizabeth, New Jersey 21.1 275 130,215
Newark, New Jersey 20.9 597 285,154
Somerville, Massachusetts 20.9 170 81,360
Riverside, California 20.6 674 327,728
Santa Clarita, California 20.5 433 210,888
North Little Rock, Arkansas 20.5 135 65,911
Rochester, New York 20.4 424 208,046
Paterson, New Jersey 20.3 302 148,678
Sterling Heights, Michigan 20.3 269 132,631
Tulsa, Oklahoma 20.3 814 401,800
Council Bluffs, Iowa 19.7 123 62,316
St. Paul, Minnesota 19.5 597 306,621
Kentwood, Michigan 19.3 100 51,747
Joliet, Illinois 19.2 285 148,462
Garland, Texas 19.2 456 238,002
Pomona, California 19.1 292 152,939
Gulfport, Mississippi 19.1 137 71,822
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 18.8 339 180,072
Pittsburg, California 18.7 135 72,141
Grand Island, Nebraska 18.5 95 51,390
Jupiter, Florida 18.2 118 64,976
White Plains, New York 18.1 107 59,047
Lorain, Ohio 18.0 115 63,841
Cathedral City, California 18.0 98 54,596
Plainfield, New Jersey 17.9 92 51,327
Hayward, California 17.9 287 160,500
Normal, Illinois 17.5 95 54,284
La Mesa, California 17.5 105 60,021
Methuen Town, Massachusetts 17.3 87 50,259
Virginia Beach, Virginia 17.3 779 450,435
Redondo Beach, California 17.2 117 67,908
Gardena, California 17.1 103 60,224
Lynchburg, Virginia 17.0 138 80,995
San Clemente, California 16.9 110 65,267
Rochester Hills, Michigan 16.8 125 74,205
Casper, Wyoming 16.8 97 57,814
Flint, Michigan 16.7 161 96,448
Carson, California 16.5 153 92,735
Palo Alto, California 16.4 110 67,178
Harrisonburg, Virginia 16.2 88 54,215
Anaheim, California 16.2 571 352,497
Westminster, Colorado 16.1 182 112,812
Berkeley, California 15.9 195 122,324
Sugar Land, Texas 15.9 141 88,485
San Buenaventura (Ventura), California 15.6 173 110,790
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota 15.4 124 80,581
West Valley City, Utah 15.3 209 136,170
Arcadia, California 15.3 90 58,799
Shreveport, Louisiana 15.2 291 192,036
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 15.1 340 225,374
Colton, California 15.0 82 54,828
Danbury, Connecticut 14.8 126 85,246
Westminster, California 14.5 133 91,564
Portsmouth, Virginia 14.5 137 94,572
Costa Mesa, California 14.4 164 113,825
Escondido, California 14.3 218 151,969
Porterville, California 13.9 82 59,145
Boca Raton, Florida 13.9 136 98,150
Hoffman Estates, Illinois 13.8 71 51,567
Bartlett, Tennessee 13.7 81 59,102
Janesville, Wisconsin 13.7 88 64,359
Rockville, Maryland 13.5 92 68,401
Manhattan, Kansas 13.1 72 54,832
Haverhill, Massachusetts 13.0 83 63,639
Miramar, Florida 13.0 183 140,328
Independence, Missouri 12.9 151 117,306
Redlands, California 12.9 92 71,554
Beaverton, Oregon 12.8 125 97,514
Rialto, California 12.6 130 103,562
Montgomery, Alabama 12.1 241 199,518
Arlington Heights, Illinois 11.8 89 75,634
Dubuque, Iowa 11.7 68 58,276
Portland, Maine 11.7 78 66,882
Kansas City, Kansas 11.6 178 152,938
Hialeah, Florida 11.6 278 239,673
New Britain, Connecticut 11.6 84 72,710
Terre Haute, Indiana 11.5 70 60,774
Fayetteville, North Carolina 11.5 241 209,889
Union City, California 11.4 86 75,343
Redding, California 11.2 103 91,794
Novato, California 11.1 62 55,980
Great Falls, Montana 11.0 65 58,876
Hamilton, Ohio 11.0 68 62,092
Delray Beach, Florida 10.9 75 68,749
Antioch, California 10.8 121 111,674
Apple Valley, California 10.8 79 73,077
Decatur, Alabama 10.7 58 54,405
Cupertino, California 10.5 64 60,777
Stockton, California 10.4 324 310,496
Rancho Cucamonga, California 10.4 185 177,452
Ann Arbor, Michigan 10.4 126 121,477
Salinas, California 10.3 163 157,596
Baldwin Park, California 10.3 79 76,402
El Cajon, California 9.7 101 103,894
Camden, New Jersey 9.7 72 74,532
Bloomington, Illinois 9.6 75 77,934
Green Bay, Wisconsin 9.6 101 105,116
Lancaster, California 9.5 153 160,316
Glendora, California 9.5 50 52,445
Stamford, Connecticut 9.5 124 130,824
Kenner, Louisiana 9.3 63 67,451
Aliso Viejo, California 9.3 48 51,671
Largo, Florida 9.2 78 84,754
Port Arthur, Texas 8.8 49 55,498
Syracuse, New York 8.8 126 143,396
Enid, Oklahoma 8.6 43 50,122
Pasadena, Texas 8.4 129 153,520
Appleton, Wisconsin 8.3 62 74,653
Wellington, Florida 8.0 52 64,848
Burien, Washington 7.9 41 51,671
San Mateo, California 7.9 83 104,748
Temecula, California 7.9 90 114,327
Garden Grove, California 7.9 137 174,226
Ogden, Utah 7.8 68 87,031
Warwick, Rhode Island 7.8 63 80,871
Glendale, Arizona 7.7 191 246,709
Hemet, California 7.4 63 85,160
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 7.4 439 595,351
Glendale, California 7.1 144 203,054
Auburn, Washington 7.1 57 80,776
Huntington Beach, California 7.0 142 201,874
Alexandria, Virginia 7.0 112 160,035
Newport News, Virginia 6.9 124 179,388
Coral Gables, Florida 6.8 35 51,095
Federal Way, Washington 6.7 65 96,690
Davenport, Iowa 6.6 68 102,320
Mobile, Alabama 6.6 126 190,265
Brockton, Massachusetts 6.6 63 95,672
Bellflower, California 6.6 51 77,772
Paramount, California 6.6 36 54,909
Topeka, Kansas 6.5 82 126,587
Bristol, Connecticut 6.5 39 60,223
Eagan, Minnesota 6.5 43 66,627
Livonia, Michigan 6.2 58 94,105
Warren, Michigan 6.1 82 135,022
Aurora, Illinois 6.0 121 200,965
Evansville, Indiana 6.0 71 118,930
Fullerton, California 5.7 80 140,392
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 5.6 37 66,665
Oxnard, California 5.5 115 210,037
Peabody, Massachusetts 5.5 29 52,987
Diamond Bar, California 5.5 31 56,665
La Habra, California 5.3 33 62,466
Newton, Massachusetts 5.3 47 88,994
Weston, Florida 5.2 37 70,944
Union City, New Jersey 5.1 36 70,387
New Bedford, Massachusetts 4.9 47 95,120
Orland Park, Illinois 4.9 29 58,765
Mesquite, Texas 4.9 70 143,949
Tinley Park, Illinois 4.8 27 56,668
Lowell, Massachusetts 4.5 50 111,346
Erie, Pennsylvania 4.4 43 97,369
Long Beach, California 4.3 201 469,450
Lawton, Oklahoma 4.3 40 93,714
Rockford, Illinois 4.2 62 147,051
St. Clair Shores, Michigan 4.2 25 59,635
Vallejo, California 4.2 51 122,105
Palmdale, California 4.1 65 157,519
Wheaton, Illinois 4.1 22 53,373
Buena Park, California 4.1 34 83,015
Muncie, Indiana 4.1 28 68,625
Alhambra, California 4.0 34 85,396
San Bernardino, California 4.0 86 216,995
Lakewood, California 4.0 32 80,967
Wyoming, Michigan 4.0 30 75,938
Alameda, California 3.9 31 79,177
Medford, Massachusetts 3.8 22 57,797
Springfield, Ohio 3.7 22 59,208
Bridgeport, Connecticut 3.7 54 146,579
Miami Beach, Florida 3.4 31 92,307
Gaithersburg, Maryland 3.3 23 68,710
Kenosha, Wisconsin 3.3 33 99,877
Monterey Park, California 3.3 20 61,044
Norwalk, Connecticut 3.3 29 89,005
Farmington Hills, Michigan 3.2 26 81,050
Jacksonville, North Carolina 3.2 23 72,447
Dearborn, Michigan 3.1 29 94,491
Torrance, California 3.0 44 146,758
Daly City, California 3.0 32 107,074
South Gate, California 2.9 28 95,430
Bolingbrook, Illinois 2.9 22 75,201
Poway, California 2.8 14 50,041
Peoria, Illinois 2.7 31 112,883
Coconut Creek, Florida 2.6 16 61,010
Detroit, Michigan 2.5 170 673,104
Coral Springs, Florida 2.5 33 133,037
Trenton, New Jersey 2.4 20 84,964
Skokie, Illinois 2.2 14 63,978
Berwyn, Illinois 2.2 12 55,550
Orange, California 2.1 30 140,560
Pawtucket, Rhode Island 2.1 15 72,001
Southfield, Michigan 2.0 15 73,208
Waukegan, Illinois 1.9 17 87,729
Whittier, California 1.8 16 86,838
Waterbury, Connecticut 1.8 20 108,629
Fountain Valley, California 1.8 10 56,313
Mission Viejo, California 1.7 16 96,016
Burbank, California 1.6 17 104,834
Evanston, Illinois 1.6 12 74,756
Palatine, Illinois 1.6 11 68,644
Lakewood, Ohio 1.6 8 50,249
Concord, California 1.5 20 129,783
Miami Gardens, Florida 1.4 16 113,750
Jackson, Mississippi 1.3 21 166,965
Norwalk, California 1.0 11 106,084
West Covina, California 0.8 9 107,598
Bloomington, Minnesota 0.8 7 85,866
Mount Prospect, Illinois 0.7 4 53,930
Oak Lawn, Illinois 0.7 4 56,087
Pontiac, Michigan 0.7 4 59,792
Racine, Wisconsin 0.6 5 77,542
Parma, Ohio 0.6 5 79,167
Schaumburg, Illinois 0.5 4 74,184
Schenectady, New York 0.3 2 65,625
San Leandro, California 0.2 2 90,553
Huntington Park, California 0.2 1 58,822
Decatur, Illinois 0.1 1 72,174
Providence, Rhode Island 0.1 2 180,393
Cerritos, California 0.0 0 51,020
Hempstead, New York 0.0 0 55,806
Sunrise, Florida 0.0 0 94,323

Data shown for cities with populations exceeding 50,000. See data note.
SOURCE: Governing calculations of U.S. Census Bureau Building Permits Survey data for December 2018

Among larger cities -- those with populations of at least 300,000 -- Austin’s rate last year topped all others, followed closely by Atlanta and Reno, Nev.

Generally speaking, it’s the southern cities and parts of the West Coast where growth remains the strongest. This, of course, mirrors broader national trends as these same regions are adding jobs and population at a faster pace than other parts of the country.

One Sun Belt city that’s experienced exponential growth for the past few years is Frisco, Texas. Its per capita rate last year was the highest of any city with a population over 100,000. The area continues to lure major employers in a range of industries, including Keurig Dr. Pepper, which announced last month that it plans to move its Texas headquarters there.

John Lettelleir, the city’s development services director, estimated that about 65 percent to 70 percent of the city has now been developed or has plans for development. To encourage more density, the city no longer allows for garden-style apartment zoning, instead favoring mixed-use development.

While the bulk of the largest construction growth is taking place in the Sun Belt and the West, there are exceptions.

Ankeny, Iowa, a fast-growing city of 62,000 outside of Des Moines, issued permits for about 900 units, most of them single-family residences. Rochester, Minn., with a population of 116,000, reported permits for more than 1,400 new units. Several college towns, including Bowling Green, Ky., and Champaign, Ill., also recorded strong gains in multi-unit housing.

By comparison, Sunrise, Fla., a city of about 95,000 bordering the Everglades, and Cerritos, Calf., didn’t issue a single residential construction permit last year. Cities with the lowest permitting rates tend to be either suburbs like these that are fairly built out or economically depressed areas of the Midwest. A few such cities have routinely issued permits for fewer than a dozen new units a year.

Much more than housing demand dictates the amount of construction activity taking place.

Some cities are left with little room to develop, while those in Texas and other lower-density areas maintain plenty of available land. But that doesn’t mean that cities can’t build up: Even San Francisco has been ramping up permitting in recent years, recording about 5,200 new units last year.

In other jurisdictions, local zoning ordinances and political opposition effectively hinder development year after year. It’s an issue that’s been the subject of much debate in California, where the state is pressuring cities to comply with a housing supply law. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration recently sued the city of Huntington Beach for failure to meet requirements, sending a message to 46 other cities that it considers out of compliance.

“I don’t intend to file suit against all 47, but I’m not going to preside over neglect and denial,” Newsom said in his State of the State address last month.

Many of the California cities the state has singled out for noncompliance issued relatively few permits last year. Huntington Park, Calif., has approved just one new unit over the past two years. Paramount, a similar-sized city of about 55,000, issued permits for 36 units last year and only 13 the year before, Census data show.

 

How 2018 Construction Rates Compare Over Time

In about 62 percent of the cities reviewed, 2018 permitting totals exceeded their averages over the prior 10-year period. All of the largest cities over a half million exceeded their averages with the exceptions of Detroit, El Paso and Milwaukee. (Some others, however, don’t report data to the Census Bureau.)

 

 

Many of the cities with the strongest gains relative to their historical averages are found in California, with particularly sharp growth continuing in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the second consecutive year, Oakland issued permits for about 3,900 units -- approximately four times the city’s annual average. Nearby Fremont similarly reported nearly 2,000 units after generally permitting fewer than 500 annually in recent years. Smaller cities, including San Ramon and Richmond, also reported totals far above their averages. Elsewhere, Moreno Valley and Santa Rosa, Calif., saw their permitting totals spike last year.

Nationally, 135 of the 582 cities over 50,000 reviewed recorded numbers of permitted units that more than doubled their historical averages.

 

City Permitting Data

 
 

About the data: All data refer to numbers of units permitted for individual local jurisdictions (the Census Bureau publishes separate data covering metro areas.) Most cities voluntarily report permitting data to the Census Bureau on a monthly basis. Some, though, do not provide any data or only report data for a few months, such as New Orleans and Pittsburgh. The Census Bureau imputes totals for these cities based on prior trends. This report excludes cities reporting fewer than 10 months of permitting data for 2018. Totals reflect December 2018 end-of-year data, subject to revision with the release of the Census Bureau’s annual permitting data.