Of the 3,416 new single-family permits issued during the first half of 2011, 752 of them, or 22 percent, were issued in El Paso County alone. According to new single-family permit data by county, released by the Census Bureau, the counties with the largest numbers of single-family permits issued during the first half of 2011 were El Paso, Douglas, Denver, Larimer and Arapahoe.
However, when permit totals are adjusted to the number of existing housing units in each county, the counties with the larges amounts of permit activity were Chaffee, Park, Douglas, El Paso and Weld.
The first map shows the relative amount of permit activity adjusted for the existing size of the housing stock in each county, thus creating an index value. The counties are then broken out in quartiles reflecting the amount of single-family activity compared to other counties. The top quartile has the largest amount of new permitting compared to the number of existing units. The bottom quartile has the smallest amount.
Top Q: Brown
2nd Q: Green
3rd Q: Orange
Bottom Q: Yellow
No data: White
In absolute terms, and as expected, the counties with the largest populations have the most permit activity. But when adjusted to the number of existing housing units (as shown in the map), the hot spots for single-family permits right now are Douglas, Park and Chaffee counties. El Paso county is close behind although it lands in the second quartile.
During the first half of 2011, the areas with very few new single-family permits relative to the size of the existing stock are Pueblo, Broomfield, Jefferson and Boulder counties.
In the larger context, single-family permits remain well below totals experienced prior to 2007. From 2006 to 2008, single-family permits in the state decreased 60 percent from 31,000 to 12,000. Permit activity appears to have bottomed out in 2009. When disuccing permit activity from 2008 to the present time, we're looking at permit totals that are near 20-year lows. (See here for more.)
The chart shows us that since 2008, some of the most notable declines in single-family permits can be found on the Western Slope. Permit activity in Garfield and Mesa counties, for example, are still well below 2008 totals. If 2011 trends continue, Mesa County will set a new low in single-family permits in 2011. SF permits have declined continuously in Mesa County since 2008.
If 2011's pace for single-family permits continues for the second half, many counties in the state will match 2008's already-low totals. El Paso and Douglas Counties are set to come close to 2008 totals, and Jefferson and Larimer counties are likely to exceed 2008 totals.
In the second map, we see what counties have had the most activity in single-family permits from 2008 through June 2011. Permit totals are adjusted to the existing number of housing units in each county.
The area of the state with the least amount of activity is the eastern plains region. Jefferson county, Boulder County and Denver County have also seen little activity, compared to other counties, during this period.
On the other hand, Larimer County, Weld County, Douglas County and El Paso County are all in the second quartile and have maintained a relatively large amount of single-family permit activity since 2008.
Where has the single-family permit activity been in recent years? In terms of raw totals, the largest counties show the most single-family permit activity. That is expected.
When we look at the number of permits issued in relation to the number of units extant in each county, during 2011 and in the period since 2008, we see that several mountain counties are in the top two quartiles, such as Chaffee, Teller, Summit and Park County. These counties are issuing significant numbers of single-family permits relative to their respective sizes.
On the Front Range, Douglas County and El Paso County show some of the most solid gains in new single-family permits. To a lesser extent, Weld and Larimer counties also appear very active.
Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Denver and Boulder Counties consistently appear in the bottom two quartiles during this period.