May 13 2024
Regional/County Profiles

Single-Family Building Permits Hit 15-Year High in Columbia County

Capital Region building permitting activity for single-family homes in 2023 slowed to its slowest pace in a dozen years. At the same time, however, single-family permit approvals hit a 15-year high in Columbia County and multi-unit approvals were at a seven-year high in Rensselaer County, according to a Center for Economic Growth analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Building Permit Survey statistics.


In 2023, Capital Region municipalities approved 1,378 single-family (one-unit) buildings – down 16 percent from the previous year and the fewest approvals since 2009. Only 26 of New York’s 62 counties had annual increases in approvals for single-family building permits.

Columbia, Schenectady and Washington counties were the region’s only counties that saw annual increases in approved single-family building permits. In Columbia County, they increased by 18.9 percent to 113 – the most since 2009. Single-family permit approvals increased by 12.3 percent to 73 in Schenectady County and by 11.1 percent to 100 in Washington County.

Albany and Saratoga counties had the region’s steepest annual declines in approved single-family building permits at -25.5 percent and -24.7 percent, respectively. The 184 single-family building permits approvals in Albany County were the fewest it has had in more than four decades while the 580 in Saratoga County were its fewest in 11 years.


Between 2022 and 2023, the number of approved permits for multi-family buildings declined by 33.6 percent to 95. Those proposed buildings had a total of 947 multi-family units – down 33.3 percent from a year earlier. Rensselaer County saw a 220 percent annual increase in multi-family unit building permit approvals.

CEG Initiatives

CEG is working to attract to the region more talent and create even more demand for the region’s new and existing housing stock. CEG launched a talent attraction campaign in April 2021 using the CapNY brand. The talent campaign works collaboratively across target industry sectors and organizations to attract and retain talented, diverse people who want to live in New York’s Capital Region because of its lifestyle and opportunity. The CapNY website – – and its associated social media channels are key elements of CEG’s talent campaign, which markets New York’s eight-county, million-resident Capital Region as a destination of choice, specifically highlighting its quality of place. To achieve these objectives, CEG is also targeting out of market social media placements, piloting outreach to universities and colleges to engage students and local companies to engage interns, as well as connecting regional companies and HR professionals to tools for recruitment.


According to the Census Bureau, “These [building permit] numbers provide a general indication of the amount of new housing stock that may have been added to the housing inventory. Since not all permits become actual housing starts and starts lag the permit stage of construction, these numbers do not represent total new construction, but should provide a general indicator on construction activity and the local real estate market.”


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