North Carolina Home Construction

This March 17, 2020, photo shows construction work done on a new home in Mebane, N.C. 

(The Center Square) – Housing in North Carolina has experienced a hit over the past month, U.S. Census Bureau data released Tuesday shows.

The number of privately owned housing units approved in North Carolina increased by more than 28% in May 2021 compared with the same time last year, bureau data shows, but month-over-month applications decreased by nearly 14.5%.

More than 37,040 residential building permits have been authorized in North Carolina this year, reflecting a more than 21% increase from 2020. Census data shows 29,122 permits were authorized at the same time in 2020.

Permits jumped by 10.5% in March, climbing to 8,638 from 7,814 in May. However, the number of authorized permits decreased over the past two months; 6,860 permits were approved in May, and 8,029 were approved in April.

The North Carolina Association of Realtors could not be reached for comment Tuesday. In a recent report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said housing inventory slowed significantly over the past decade. Every region of the country has experienced an "underbuilding gap" of 5.5 million to 6.8 million housing units since 2001, NAR said in the June report.

"The state of America's housing stock … is dire, with a chronic shortage of affordable and available homes [needed to support] the nation's population," NAR said in the report.

New U.S. Census Bureau data shows North Carolina's population increased by 903,905 people since the 2010 census.

The association said the shortage pushed national home prices in April to a record high at $342,000. The NAR warned if home prices continue to rise at the same pace, many Americans could be priced out of the market.

North Carolina's home values have increased 15.4% over the past year, according to online real estate marketplace company Zillow. The average value of homes in North Carolina now is $248,950.

Most of North Carolina's private housing permits – 1,954 – were approved in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metro area in May. Still, that is 293 permits less than the number of permits issued in April in the area.

National reports also point to a lumber shortage as one of the driving forces behind the current housing shortage. The price of lumber increased by 300% this spring compared with the same time last year, reports show. According to the National Home Builders' Association, lumber prices have caused the average price of a new single-family home to increase by around $30,000 since April 2020.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for five years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.