In an encouraging sign for the housing market, new home construction increased in March, according to a government report. Housing starts, the number of new homes being built, rose 7.2% in March to an annual rate of 549,000 units, up from a revised 512,000 in February, the Commerce Department said. Economists had expected an annual rate 520,000 units, according to consensus estimates from Breifing.com. The report also said there were 594,000 building permits issued in March. That’s up 11% from 534,000 permits in February, and was also better than expected. Building permits were forecast to have increased to an annual rate of 540,000 units.
While housing starts and building permits increased in March from the month before, both were about 13% below levels seen in March 2010. In addition, new construction of multifamily homes continues to outpace construction of single-family units, which are considered the core of the residential housing market. Single-family housing starts increased 7.7% in March, while construction of buildings with five units or more was up 14.7% versus February. Source: CNN/Money