Rhode Island Now Ranks Last in U.S. for New Home Construction

Wednesday, July 27, 2022


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PHOTO: file

A new report ranks Rhode Island last in the U.S. for new home construction per capita.

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

Massachusetts issued 2.82 permits per 1,000 residents.


According to the June report of 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 hit $900,000.

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


National Trend

The study on the state of New Residential Construction in America looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau on new building permits from 1986 – 2021.

“The five hottest housing markets are Utah, Idaho, Florida, South Carolina, and Colorado. The five slowest were Rhode Island, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, and West Virginia,” states the study.

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 U.S. averaged 5.6 new residential building permits per 1,000. Then, a massive decline of 73%, a drop off in 2009 — to just 1.9 building permits per 1,000.


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New apartment complex on Waterman in Providence PHOTO: Will Morgan

Shift from Single Family to Multi-Family

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

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

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


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