2020 Building Permit Overview

Using 2020 Building Permit Issuance data, CDRPC noted a slight increase in the overall number of regional building permits issued after years of decline. Between 2015 and 2019, building permit issuance saw yearly decreases in overall permits issued, decreasing from 3,601 in 2015 to 1,896 in 2019. In 2020, despite the COVID pandemic, building permit issuance saw a slight bump up to 1,951. It is important to note that building permit issuance counts are based on municipalities reporting to the Census Bureau. Municipalities that don’t report their issuance may appear to have fewer permits issued than have actually been issued.

In both 2015 and 2016, multi-family permits made up over 50% of all permits issued. However, in the years that followed through 2020, both the overall number of multi-family permits and their share of the overall permits issued have been decreasing. In 2015, multi-family permits made up approximately 68% of all permits issued. By 2020, multi-family permits made up only 32% of permits issued.

Total Building Permits

Overall, building permit issuance in the region saw a slight bump in 2020 after 4 years of steady declines. After hitting an above average high in 2015 with 3,601, total permit issuance has declined in the following years through 2019. Building permit issuance hit a low of 1,896 in 2019 but bounced back slightly to 1,951. One of the biggest differences between 2019 and 2020 was in the number of single-family permits issued. In 2019, there was a total of approximately 1,094 single-family permits issued. In 2020, that total increased to 1,323 single-family permits issued. This is the most single-family permits issued in the region since 2016.

Share of Building Permits

As the overall number of single-family permits issued has increased over the years, their share of overall permits issued has also been increasing steadily. In 2015, single-family permits made up just 32% of all permits issued in the region. However, every year through 2020, this share has been increasing steadily. In 2020, permit issuance was the inverse of what it was in 2015, with multi-family permits making up 32% of all permits issued and single-family permits making up 68%.

Of the 1,951 total permits issued in 2020, Saratoga County issued the most with approximately 52% of all permits. Of these permits, 73% were for single-family units and 27% for multi-family. Albany County saw the second most building permits issued, with 33% of the total issuance for the region. Of these permits, 60% were for single-family units and 40% were for multi-family units. Rensselaer and Schenectady Counties had the fewest share of permits issued at 8% and 7% respectively. Rensselaer County saw 76% of its permits issued for single-family units and 24% for multi-family units. Schenectady County had the highest share of multi-family permits in the region at 43%.

Of all the municipalities in the region, the Town of Colonie issued the most building permits by far with 276. Of these 276, 228 were for single-family units and 48 were for multi-family units. The Town of Guilderland, also in Albany County, issued the second most permits at 185 total. Of these permits, only 29 were for single-family units and 156 were for multi-family units. The following three municipalities with the most building permits issued were all in Saratoga County. The Town of Moreau issued the third most permits in the region with 180 total. Similar to Guilderland, Moreau saw a larger number of multi-family permits than single-family, with 46 single-family permits issued and 134 multi-family permits. The Towns of Halfmoon and Ballston followed with the fourth and fifth most permits issued in the region at 178 and 144 respectively. All of the 178 permits issued in Halfmoon were for single-family units. The Town of Ballston issued 90 permits for single-family units and 54 for multi-family units.

Housing Market

In our 2018 building permit overview, we noted that the regional housing market was down in terms of closed sales and inventory. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, that has flipped, and the regional housing market has been very hot. As noted in the Q2 2021 report from the Greater Capital Association of Realtors (GCAR), inventories are at rock bottom as people have been buying up available houses at record high sales prices. GCAR reports that between July 2020 and June 2021, pending sales in the region are up by 22.9%. CDRPC also noted the increasing closed sales trend through the end of 2020 in our Change of Address Requests Analysis here. High demand for housing could push building permit issuance higher in the coming years if regional housing inventory remains low.

For a full overview of Building Permit Issuance from 2008 – 2020, check out our Housing data page here.