Housing starts improve in April

Housing starts increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000 in April, up 2.6% from the upwardly revised March figure, and up almost 30% from April 2011.

The April Residential Construction from the Commerce Department report showed surprisingly strong housing starts combined with a decline in housing permits -- just the opposite of the March 2012 report. In April, building permits declined 7.0% to a rate of 715,000, after hitting a three-year high in March.

Single-family starts were at a rate of 492,000 in April, up 2.3% from March, and up 18.8% from the same month a year ago.

On a regional basis, the Midwest showed a surge of year-over-year single-family starts, up 41.5%. In the West, single-family starts declined 3.1% on a month-to-month basis. The rest of the regions reflected the national averages.

March’s data was revised upward from a previously reported rate of 654,000 total housing starts, to a revised 699,000.

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