U.S. housing starts increased 15% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 658,000 units in September – the strongest pace of residential construction since April 2010, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department.
Multifamily starts primarily fueled the increase, rising 51.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 233,000 units – their highest level since October 2008. Single-family housing starts rose 1.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 425,000 units in September.
However, building permits fell 5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 594,000 units in September, while multifamily permits declined 14.5% to 177,000 units and single-family permits were virtually unchanged at 417,000.
Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder from Reno, Nev., views the new data with caution.
‘[The] numbers are very welcome evidence that builders are putting some crews back to work on single-family homes in select markets where economic conditions are improving, and on multifamily homes in places where demand for rentals is on the rise,’ he says. ‘That said, extremely tight lending conditions for both building and buying new homes, along with stubbornly high foreclosures that are putting downward pressure on home prices, continue to weigh down new construction and corresponding job growth.’