Data released this morning by the Commerce Department showed that housing starts rose 2.6% last month, reaching an annualized rate of 717,000 units. That topped economists who forecast a 680,000-unit pace, Reuters said.
Construction for single-family homes increased 2.3% in April, while multi-family homes starts rose 3.2%.
April’s housing starts were up 29.9% over the same time last year.
The government also revised earlier estimates for March’s annualized rate upward from a pace of 645,000 to a rate of 699,000 units.
The government reported that permits for new homes fell by 7% to a 715,00-unit pace in April, down from March’s revised 769,000-unit rate. That missed economists’ estimates of a 730,000-unit pace.
The decline in future home permits was driven by a 20.8% decline in permits for multi-family units. Permits for single family residences increased 1.9%.
Analysts cited by Reuters said that April’s construction start gains were evidence that the housing market may be slowly turning around after years of declines, and suggested that the fall in permits would be temporary.
Still, April’s numbers were less than a third of the number of housing starts recorded in January 2006.