Rate of housing starts declines in May

The pace of residential construction slowed in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000, but single-family starts picked up the pace.

The mixed message from the Commerce Department’s residential construction report, released Tuesday morning, also includes this nugget of good news: The previous month of April was revised up -- way up -- from 711,000 to 744,000. This revision makes April 2012 the strongest month for total housing starts since October 2008.

Also, single-family housing starts in May increased to 516,000, up from 500,000 in April.

The rate of both the total housing starts and single-family starts increased on a year-over-year basis, up 28.5% and 26.1%.

However, the 708,000-pace offers the industry little to celebrate, as 700,000 is at the low end of most full-year forecasts for 2012.

Building permits in May were at a pace of 780,000 -- up 7.9% from April, and up 25.0% from May 2011. 

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