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Housing starts increase nearly 6% in July

August 16, 2013|By Andrew Khouri
  • A construction worker at a new home in Chicago.
A construction worker at a new home in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press )

Builders started housing units at a more rapid pace in July as apartment construction ramped up, new data show.

Housing starts rose 5.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000, the Commerce Department said Friday. Private housing construction was 20.9% higher than July 2012.

The figures represent a rebound from June, when new construction fell unexpectedly, though starts still came in below expectations. Economists polled by Bloomberg News had expected starts to hit an annual rate of 900,000.

July’s increases came from the apartment sector, which tends to be more volatile than single-family home construction. Single-family starts fell 2.2% from June.

A recovering housing market and rising prices have builders increasingly excited. On Thursday, the National Assn. of Home Builders reported that builder confidence reached a nearly eight-year high in August. 

But while builders have expressed more confidence lately, they have yet to ramp up construction to normal levels. The exact reason isn’t clear, but developers have listed the lack of buildable lots and tough access to credit among their concerns.

The trade group's index showed future sales expectations pleased developers the most.

Building permits, an indication of future construction, increased 2.7% from June. Again the gains came from the multi-family sector as single-family permits fells over the month.


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