US Housing Starts In March Surpass 1 Million

17/04/2013 10:31 pm

U.S. housing starts jumped to above a 1 million annual rate in March, the fastest since June 2008. The gain was driven by a surge in apartment construction and showed continued strength in the housing market at the start of the spring buying season.

The Commerce Department says that builders increased their construction pace by 7 percent in March from February. Apartment construction jumped 31.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 392,000 -- the fastest pace since January 2006. Single-family home construction, which represents nearly two-thirds of the market, fell 4.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted 619,000. That was down from February's pace of 650,000, which was the fastest pace since May 2008.

Applications for building permits declined -- an indicator of future construction-- 3.9 percent to an annual rate of 902,000, down from February's rate of 939,000, although still 17.3 percent above March of 2012.

Privately-owned housing completions in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 800,000. That's an 11 percent increase from February and 36.3 percent above a year ago.

Confidence in the market is down despite the good housing start news. The National Association of Home Builders announced this week that builders' confidence is sliding, due to rising costs and the availability of buildable land.