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

“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,” says National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) chairman Bob Jones, a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

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.

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose two points to 17 in February as favorable home buying conditions and signs of healing in the job market helped boost the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), also released last week.

Home remodeling is a bright spot in the troubled U.S. construction industry, according to Marvin Windows and Doors who commented on the Commerce Department numbers.

“We’ve seen this shift in our own business, as energy-efficient replacement windows and doors have outperformed our products for the new-construction market,” said Marvin spokesperson John Kirchner. “Instead of trading up to larger homes or flipping properties for a quick profit, we’re seeing homeowners elect to renovate their existing properties for greater comfort, efficiency and style.”

He also credited the federal tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements as a boost to the remodeling numbers.

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