Housing construction activity is showing a few pockets of life across the U.S. While single-family and multi-family permits continue to remain below pre-recession levels in more than 95 percent of metropolitan areas, major markets in Texas and North Carolina lead the nation in new construction activity, on a per-capita basis.

According to Reed Construction Data, the Texas metros of Houston and Austin had more new-housing permits per resident than anywhere else during the past year. Right behind them were the North Carolina metros of Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte. Two other Texas locales, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio, also cracked the Top 10, and most other top metros were hundreds of miles from the East or West coasts.

Permit issuance is an indicator of future building activity, and the implication for ULI members is that the new-homes market is recovering faster in parts of the central U.S. than on the coasts. According to Reed Construction Data’s chief economist, Jim Haughey, every metro market except some in Texas and the Carolinas overbuilt during the housing boom. Plus, the foreclosure crisis has removed a large number of households from the new-home market because of damaged credit histories. Metros with high levels of housing construction are still attracting new residents and businesses because of their low cost, relative to the coasts, Haughey said.

Here are Reed Construction Data’s Top 10 housing markets by permits per 1,000 population from February 2010 through February 2011:

Rank

Metros
over 1 million population

Housing permits
Feb. 2010-Feb. 2011

Permits per 1,000 population

1

Houston, TX

30,659

5.225

2

Austin, TX

8,876

5.206

3

Raleigh-Durham, NC

8,023

4.932

4

Charlotte, NC

6,415

3.675

5

Nashville, TN

5,579

3.526

6

Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

22,686

3.519

7

Indianapolis, IN

6,021

3.453

8

Oklahoma City, OK

4,098

3.339

9

Las Vegas, NV

6,285

3.303

10

San Antonio, TX

6,779

3.272

(Source: Reed Construction Data.)