U.S. Single-Family Home Starts Rise to Four-Year High
By Shobhana Chandra - Feb 20, 2013
Builders broke ground in January on the most U.S. single-family homes in more than four years and permits for future construction rose, an indication the industry’s momentum carried over into 2013.
Work began on 613,000 one-family houses at an annual rate last month, the most since July 2008 and up 0.8 percent from December’s 608,000, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Total housing starts dropped to an 890,000 rate, less than forecast and restrained by a slump in construction of multifamily units, which is often volatile.
Faster hiring and easier access to credit are needed to help complement historically low mortgage rates and stoke a sustained real-estate rebound. Rising sales at builders such as PulteGroup Inc. and Lennar Corp. indicate housing will keep contributing to growth this year after emerging as a bright spot in the economy in 2012.
“The fact that single-family starts are up is very encouraging, it is more important to the economy in terms of employment and growth” than the multifamily area, said Gus Faucher, a senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburg, who projected total starts would drop to an 895,000 pace. “The housing market recovery is continuing and will be an important contributor to economic growth. Permits look very solid, and that is a great sign.”