Rhode Island now ranks last in the US for building new homes

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

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A new report ranks Rhode Island last in the United States for building new homes per capita.

The study finds that Rhode Island issued only 1.27 permits per 1,000 residents in 2021.

Massachusetts issued 2.82 permits per 1,000 residents.


According to the June report from the RI Association of Realtors, the median price of a single-family home in Rhode Island is $430,000. In the Boston metro area, the price of a single-family home has reached $900,000.

In contrast, Utah issued 11.94 permits per 1,000 residents.

National trend

The State of New Homebuilding in America study looked at US Census Bureau data on new building permits from 1986 to 2021.

“The five hottest real estate markets are Utah, Idaho, Florida, South Carolina and Colorado. The five slowest were Rhode Island, Connecticut, Illinois, New York and Virginia -Western,” the study says.

Nationally, the number of permits to build new homes increased during COVID and has increased every year since 2009, although the number of new permits remains lower than it was before the Great Recession.

From 1986 to 2007, the United States averaged 5.6 new residential building permits per 1,000 people. Then, a massive drop of 73%, a drop in 2009 — to just 1.9 building permits per 1,000 inhabitants.

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New apartment complex on Waterman in Providence PHOTO: Will Morgan

Going from a single-family to a multi-family

The study also reported that nationally, there is a significant shift from single-family building permits to multi-family permits. At its peak in 1992, 83% of permits were for single-family homes. Today, that percentage has dropped to 64%.

In RI, 74% of building permits are issued to single-family homes. It is the 16th highest in the country. In Massachusetts, only 36% of permits are for single-family homes.

The analysis was developed by BHP using national statistics and state-by-state data from the US Census Bureau.

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