WASHINGTON - Finally some good news for woodworkers and home builders; strong gains in new building permits for both single and multifamily homes drove the combined permitting number to its strongest pace since September of 2008.

The most promising number comes from single family housing starts which rose 3.2% in May according to newly released figures from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau. This will be the third consecutive month that this segment has shown in increase in production and is the best pace since December of 2011.

While single family housing starts increased, builders additionally pulled more permits for single and multi family homes in May.

"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 National Association of Home Builders (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."

Three out of four regions posted gains in combined activity in May. The Midwest, South and West posted gains of 6.1 percent, 11.1 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively, while the Northeast registered an 8.0 percent decline.

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