Housing production hit its strongest pace in the last six months this January, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department. There was a 2.8 percent gain to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 591,000 units.

“Builders are starting to see the positive impacts of home buyer tax credits and other favorable buying conditions in terms of consumer demand, and are cautiously increasing production to meet that demand,” said National Association of Home Builders Chairman Bob Jones, a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Chief economist for the NAHB, David Crowe, said that the positive conditions are also seen in recent NAHB surveys.

“As our latest home builder surveys have indicated, today's excellent home buying conditions - including the availability of tax credits for first-time and repeat buyers, very favorable mortgage rates and stabilizing home values - are helping drive potential buyers back to the market,” he said.

However, Crowe also warned that there is a continuing shortfall of available credit for building projects that is slowing the pace of new construction jobs.

The overall gain in housing starts was reflected on both the single- and multi-family side this January. While single-family starts posted a 1.5 percent gain to a seasonally adjusted, annual rate of 484,000 units, multifamily starts posted a 9.2 percent gain to 107,000 units.

Also, overall permit issuance fell 4.9 percent to a rate of 621,000 units in January. The NAHB believes this was due entirely to a 23 percent decline to 114,000 units on the multifamily side, which offset a big gain in that sector the previous month. Single-family permits held virtually even, with a 0.4 percent gain to 507,000 units.