Construction on single-family homes rose during February to its highest level since November 2007, pushing total U.S. home starts for the month up 5 percent.
Starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.178 million during February representing a 31-percent increase over the February 2015 figure, according to the National Association of Home Builders and preliminary data from the Commerce Department.
Single-family starts rose 7.2 percent during the month to a rate of 822,000 and are 37 percent above the year-ago total. Meanwhile, apartment starts rose 2.4 percent to a rate of 341,000 and are up 17 percent over February 2015.
Building permits, a good barometer of how the homebuilding industry is trending, fell during the month, dropping 3.1 percent to 1.204 million. Permits remain 6.3 percent above the year-ago estimate.
Home builder confidence in the market, which has fallen over the last several months due to concerns over labor and lot costs, was unchanged at a reading of 58 according to the March release of the NAHB/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index. Any reading above a 50 indicates most home builders believe market conditions are good.
“While builder sentiment has been relatively flat for the last few months, the March HMI reading correlates with NAHB’s forecast of a steady firming of the single-family sector in 2016,” NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a statement. “Solid job growth, low mortgage rates and improving mortgage availability will help keep the housing market on a gradual upward trajectory in the coming months.”