Housing permits — a gauge for future construction — soared 3.6 percent in November over December, reaching its highest level in more than four years, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The increase is a sign that growth in new-home construction will continue through 2013, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
“Many builders have reported improving conditions in their local housing markets and are increasingly optimistic about the spring buying season, but they are being very careful not to get ahead of demand,” says Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the NAHB.
After posting three consecutive months of strong gains, housing starts reversed course in November, dipping 3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000.
NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe called the housing starts in November a readjustment from significant gains the previous months to a “more sustainable level of production.”
Crowe says that new-home starts are on track for a projected 25 percent increase in housing production for 2012.
In November, single-family housing starts fell 4.1 percent; multifamily starts dropped 1 percent.
On a regional basis, single-family and multifamily starts rose 3.3 percent in the Midwest and 2.9 percent in the South. Housing starts fell 19.2 percent in the West and 5.2 percent in the Northeast.