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U.S. housing starts increase slightly this month

Led by a strong jump in single-family production, nationwide housing starts inched up 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.206 million units in July, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. This is the highest level since October 2007.

Single-family starts rose 12.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 782,000 units after an upwardly revised June reading while multifamily production fell 17 percent to 424,000 units.

“Our builders are reporting more confidence in the market and are stepping up production of single-family homes as a result,” said National Association of Home Builders Chairman Tom Woods, a homebuilder from Blue Springs, Mo. “However, builders are still reporting problems accessing land and labor.”

“This month’s drop in the more volatile multifamily side is a return to trend after an unusually high June,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “While multifamily production has fully recovered from the downturn, single-family starts are improving at a slow and sometimes intermittent rate as consumer confidence gradually rebounds. Continued job and economic growth will keep single-family housing moving forward.”

Regionally in July, combined single- and multifamily starts rose by 20.1 percent in the Midwest and 7.7 percent in the South. The Northeast and West posted respective losses of 27.5 percent and 3.1 percent.

After several months of permit gains, overall permits fell 16.3 percent in July. Single-family permits dipped 1.9 percent to a rate of 679,000 while multifamily permits dropped 31.8 percent to 440,000.

All four regions posted permit losses in June. The Northeast, Midwest, South and West posted respective drops of 60.2 percent, 4.6 percent, 1.7 percent and 9.9 percent.

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