Driven by growth in the Northeast, nationwide housing starts rose 5.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.178 million units in February, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. Single-family production increased 7.2 percent to 822,000 units, which is the highest level since November 2007. Multifamily starts remained virtually unchanged, inching up 0.8 percent to 356,000 units.

“February’s single-family gains indicate that this sector is strengthening in line with our forecast,” says NAHB chief economist David Crowe. “As the U.S. economy firms, job creation continues and mortgage interest rates remain low, we should see further growth in housing production moving forward.”

Combined single- and multifamily starts rose in three of the four regions in February, with the West, Midwest and South posting respective gains of 26.1 percent, 19.9 percent and 7.1 percent. The Northeast registered a 51.3 percent loss.

A decline in the volatile multifamily sector pushed overall permit issuance down 3.1 percent in February. Multifamily permits fell 8.4 percent to a rate of 436,000 while single-family permits ticked up 0.4 percent to 731,000.

Regionally, permits increased in the Northeast by 40.4 percent. The Midwest, West and South registered respective permit losses of 11.4 percent, 7.2 percent and 4.4 percent.

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