WASHINGTON - Housing starts increased 11 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.038 million units, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported. The April construction pace was up 3.6 percent from a year ago.

"After a temporary fall-off in March that appears largely weather-related, housing is back on track," said David Wilson, president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). "Our builder surveys show that they remain confident about the market, and mortgage rates remain extremely attractive at well under 6 percent. This bodes well for the housing market in the coming months."

"Today's housing report should dispel any further concerns of a soft patch in the economy," said David Seiders, NAHB's chief economist. "Following lackluster readings in March, the latest employment, retail sales, and trade numbers are all better than expected. The economy and housing market are still fundamentally solid."

Single-family starts increased 6.3 percent to 1.635 million units, roughly equal to the April 2004 pace. Multifamily housing starts jumped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 403,000 units in April, up 35.2 percent above the March pace and 17.2 percent above a year earlier.

Construction of new homes and apartments increased 25 percent in the South, 6.2 percent in the Midwest, and 2.5 percent in the West. Unusually wet weather conditions contributed to a 17.8 percent decline in the Northeast.

Issuance of total building permits increased 5.3 percent from the March rate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.129 million units. Single-family permit issuance increased 5.3 percent to a rate of 1.634 million units while multifamily permits registered a 5.5 percent gain to 495,000.

Publication date: 05/16/2005