Home building permits near 4½ year high

WASHINGTON, Wed Dec 19, 2012 — U.S. permits for future home construction set their fastest pace in nearly 4½ years in November, pointing to underlying strength in the housing market, even as starts dropped after three straight months of strong gains.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday building permits increased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 899,000 units, the highest since July 2008.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected permits, which lead starts by at least a month to rise to an 875,000-unit pace last month from 868,000 units in October.

Groundbreaking fell 3.0 percent to an 861,000-unit pace, worse than economists’ expectations for a pullback to 873,000 units. October’s starts were revised down to show an 888,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 894,000 units.

The step back in homebuilding in November followed three straight months of solid gains, and reflected a 5.2 percent drop in the Northeast, which was slammed by Superstorm Sandy in late October. Starts also tumbled 19.2 percent in the West.

The housing market has regained some footing after a historic collapse that pushed the economy into its worst recession since the Great Depression.

Housing starts rebound in April, permits fall however

WASHINGTON, Wed May 16, 2012 – Housing starts rose more than expected in April, according to a government report on Wednesday that offered signs of a nascent housing recovery, even though permits for future building fell after touching a 3½ -year high the prior month.

The Commerce Department said housing starts increased 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000 units. March’s starts were revised up to a 699,000-unit pace from a previously reported 654,000 unit rate.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts rising to 680,000-unit rate. Compared to April last year, residential construction was up 29.9 percent.

The housing market is showing some signs of life after collapsing six years ago, but remains hobbled by a glut of unsold homes.

However, rising demand for rentals, which has seen builders breaking more ground on apartment projects, is helping to stabilize the market.

Housing starts last month rose across the board. Groundbreaking for single-family homes increased 2.3 percent. This segment accounts for most of the market. Starts for multi-family homes advanced 3.2 percent.

Despite last month’s overall jump in starts, they remain less than a third of their peak in January 2006. Residential construction in the first quarter grew at the fastest pace in nearly two years and is expected to contribute to economic growth this year for the first time since 2005.