WASHINGTON - Nationwide housing starts rose 5.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 672,000 units in April as the deadline for an important home buyer tax incentive arrived, according to figures released today by the U.S. Commerce Department.

“While some of the starts activity noted in today’s report reflected homes for which buyers had just signed a contract at the tail-end of the tax credit program, the rest was probably tied to builders replenishing their inventories in preparation for the post-tax credit era,” said Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, MI. “That said, builders are maintaining a cautious attitude with regard to new building as the economy and housing markets slowly recover.”

Single-family housing starts surged 10.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 593,000 units in April, the strongest rate since August of 2008. Meanwhile, multifamily starts posted an 18.6% decline to a 79,000-unit rate, offsetting a big gain posted by that sector in the previous month. Permit issuance, which can be an indicator of future building activity, declined 11.5 percent overall to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 606,000 units in April. This reflected a 10.7% decline to a 484,000-unit rate on the single-family side and a 14.7% decline to a 122,000-unit rate on the multifamily side.

Three out of four regions posted solid gains in new housing production in April. Combined single- and multifamily starts rose 23.9% in the Northeast, 16.7% in the Midwest and 7.0% in the South. The West registered a 13.3% decline.

Read the NAHB's press release.

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