U.S. housing starts rise nationwide

February 16, 2012 04:30PM

After falling by in December, housing starts increased in January and nearly returned to November’s high on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Overall, housing starts rose 1.5 percent in January from the previous month and stood 9.9 percent above the level recorded in the first month of 2011. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 699,000 homes is still far below the 1.2 million new units that analysts say signal a healthy housing market.

Much of the increase can be attributed to structures with at least five units, which rose 14.4 percent. Single-family housing starts fell 1 percent from December but remain 16.2 percent higher than last January, which was previously a source of optimism for home builders.

“The fact that the three-month moving average for housing starts has now increased for nine consecutive months and is approaching the 700,000 mark for the first time since October of 2008 is indicative of a solid recovery in housing activity,” said National Association of Home Builders chief economist David Crowe. “That said, housing production is still far from what would be considered normal in a healthy market.”— Adam Fusfeld