WASHINGTON - U.S. housing starts declined 4.8% to a seasonally adjusted average of 708,000 in May.
While single-family housing construction increased for a third consecutive month, this time by 3.2%, it was not enough to offset a sharp 21.3% decline in the "volatile" multi-family segment, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The NAHB said construction of single family homes climed to 516,000 units, the best pace since December 2011. Multifamily, meanwhile, dropped to 192,000 units.
"Today's report is a good sign that builders are cautiously moving to replenish their depleted inventories of single-family homes in response to increasing buyer demand," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the NAHB and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. "In certain housing markets across the country, the momentum toward recovery is gradually building, though tough credit conditions and inaccurate appraisal values continue to weigh down that progress."
The West was the only region not to post a decline in overall starts, registering an increase of 14.4%. The Northeast, Midwest and South each posted declines of 20.3%, 13.3% and 6.1%, respectively.