The US Census Bureau posts monthly residential permit statistics and maintains data going back many years. Their easily accessible online archive system is incomparable, but can we truly rely on the statistics they provide? The answer is, unfortunately, no.
The Census, like CHF|CIRB, gets their data directly from reporting cities and counties. However, not all of this California data makes it onto their website, and for what's lacking, the Bureau likes to make estimations. Also, if the Census reports misinformation, i.e., an incorrect number of housing units or valuation, they cannot (or will not) go back into their system to fix the error - what's done is permanent. Reliable? We think not.
A recent blog posted by John Burns, entitled Bad Data = Bad Information, sheds more light on this issue, stating:
"SF starts actually rose 4% this month in comparison to the 1% usual seasonal decline and did not decline 9% as reported by the Census Bureau (CB)."
Data encompassing the entire nation, which the Census provides for free, sounds enticing, but beware of the faulty representation of housing numbers. CHF|CIRB is a trusted source that provides ONLY what is received by the cities and unincorporated areas - no estimations necessary. With our permit reports, what you see is what you get.