Nationwide housing starts rose 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 549,000 units in March from an upwardly revised number in the previous month, the U.S. Commerce Department reported this week. The gain represented both the single- and multi-family sectors, and was mirrored by substantial improvements in building permit issuance for the same period, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“The modest improvement in new-home production and permitting in March is in line with our forecasts for incremental gains through the spring buying season,” said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. “While our builder members continue to experience a great number of challenges with regard to competition from foreclosed and short-sale properties, low appraisal values and tight credit conditions, they have noted slight improvements in interest among qualified buyers, and they need to be ready to meet the demand as it materializes.”

On the single-family side, a 7.7 percent gain to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 422,000 units partially offset a big decline in the previous month. Multi-family starts also gained back a portion of the ground they lost earlier, with a 5.8 percent increase to 127,000 units, according to the NAHB.

Regionally, housing starts posted double-digit gains of 32.3 percent in the Midwest and 27.6 percent in the West, as well as a 5.4 percent gain in the Northeast. The South was the only region to post a decline in housing starts in March, of 3.3 percent.


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