A lot of multifamily housing construction helped boost the number of building permits to above 1 million in October.

Citing Census Bureau figures, the National Association of Home Builders said the number of permits issued increased 6.2 percent for the month to a seasonally adjusted 1.03 million unit annual rate. Permits for multifamily projects such as apartments rose 15.3 percent to 414,000 units in October.

"Permits are often a harbinger of future housing activity and the strong showing in the multifamily sector along with stable numbers on the single-family side bode well for a continuing, gradual upturn in housing over the coming months," said NAHB senior economist Robert Denk. "But consumer and builder confidence could be seriously undermined unless policymakers make progress over looming budget, tax and economic policy issues in the weeks and months ahead."

Nationwide housing start numbers for September and October have been delayed until Dec. 18 due to the government shutdown last month.

 "Despite the recent government shutdown, builders feel a housing recovery is still under way," said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson. "However, this fragile recovery still faces a number of challenges, including uncertainty in Washington, tight credit conditions for home buyers and limited availability of labor and lots."