WASHINGTON, DC — Builders ramped up the pace of housing starts to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.70 million units in November, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. This was a 2.4 percent increase from an upwardly revised rate of 1.66 million units in October.

"The housing market remains a true bright spot amidst the slowly reviving economy, and we're ending 2002 on a high note," said Gary Garczynski, president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). "Prevailing market fundamentals are especially boosting builder confidence in the single-family sector."

Single-family starts were up nearly 1 percent from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.39 million units in November. Multifamily starts, which tend to fluctuate from month to month, rose 10 percent in November to a 307,000-unit rate, partially offsetting a big dip in the previous month.

Regionally, overall starts rose by double digits in the Midwest and South, registering 10.9 percent and 10.1 percent gains, respectively. Housing production slowed 5.6 percent in the Northeast and 11.9 percent in the West, respectively.

Building permits, which can be an indicator of future building activity, declined 2.7 percent in November, due entirely to a 12.2 percent decline to a 353,000-unit rate on the multifamily side. Single-family permits were essentially unchanged in November, at a healthy rate of 1.37 million units.

Garczynski noted that residential building is now running well ahead of the pace set in the first 11 months of last year, with overall housing starts surpassing last year's January through November total by 5.2 percent. "Production of single-family units is ahead by 6 percent and multifamily building is ahead by 2 percent. That's great news leading up to the holidays," he said.

NAHB is projecting a total of 1.69 million housing starts for all of 2002, the highest number in 16 years, including 1.35 million single-family housing starts, the highest number in 14 years.

Publication date: 12/16/2002