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Housing starts up 6.8% in May

June 18, Wash. – Nationwide housing starts rose 6.8 per cent to 914,000 units in May, due mostly to increased production on the multifamily side, according to new data from the HUD and U.S Census Bureau.

"The outlook for housing continues to brighten as builders respond to increased demand for new homes and rental apartments," says Rick Judson, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman.

"While challenges with regard to the cost and availability of building materials, lots and labor are still keeping the pace of improvement in check, both builders and consumers are more confident about their prospects in the current marketplace."

While single-family housing starts held at a solid but virtually unchanged pace of 599,000 units in May, multifamily production bounced back from an over-correction in the previous month with a 21.6 per cent gain to 315,000 units. From a regional perspective, combined starts activity was mixed in the month, posting gains of 17.8 per cent in the South and 5.7 per cent in the West and declines of 9.0 per cent in the Northeast and 13.7 per cent in the Midwest.

Issues of new building permits declined 3.1 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 974,000 units in May. This reduction was due entirely to a 10.0 per cent decline to 352,000 units on the multifamily side following a spike in that sector's permits in April.

Meanwhile, single-family permits edged up 1.3 per cent to 622,000 units in May – their best pace in five years. Regionally, permits rose 4.0 per cent in the Northeast but declined 6.1 per cent in the Midwest, 3.3 per cent in the South and 3.5 per cent in the West in May.