New building activity slowed to a five-month low in March, but fret not: U.S. builders still seem optimistic about the housing market, requesting the most permits for future residential projects in 3½ years.
Permit requests last month for construction on single-family homes and apartments jumped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 747,000, up 4.5% from February and a whopping 30.1% from March 2011, according to the Commerce Department.
That’s the highest number since September 2008. The West led the boom with 179,000 requested permits — a 23% jump from February and a 44% year-over-year leap.
The data, according to analysts from Credit Suisse, is “a good sign for broader economic activity.” Such news may help buoy economic confidence in the country, which pollster Gallup said Tuesday is drifting just below a four-year high.