In January, builders began work on new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.678 million units, up from a revised 1.579 million rate in December, according to the U.S. Commerce Department (www.home.doc.gov). The pace beat analyst expectations. The last time the pace of new starts was faster was in February 2000 when builders broke ground at a 1.745 million rate.
Meanwhile, building permits rose 3.1 percent in January to a 1.706 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, up from a 1.654 million rate in December. This was the highest rate since January a year ago, when the pace was 1.724 million. Building permits indicate future activity.
Regionally, housing starts jumped 14.4 percent in the South to a pace of 800,000, the highest level of building activity since January 2000. The South is the region with the biggest number of starts, with more than double the number of any other area.
Starts increased by 8.7 percent in the Northeast, but fell by 3.6 percent in the West and by 0.3 percent in the Midwest. Starts on single-family homes climbed 3.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.345 million units, while multi-family starts rose by 8.3 percent to 287,000 units.