Construction of new single-family homes and the permitting for future building both rose again in July. It was the fifth consecutive month of housing starts growth and the fourth consecutive increase in building permits, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Overall starts fell by 1%, however, dragged down by declines in the volatile multi-family sector.
Single-family starts posted a 1.7% gain to a seasonably adjusted annual rate of 490,000 in July. Single-family permits rose 5.8%. Both were the highest levels since October 2008, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Builder confidence in the market for new, single-family homes rose 1 point in August, following a 2-point gain in July. While 18 is still low by historical standards in the 20-plus year-old Index, it is the highest point since June 2008.
Perhaps more important, says NAHB, the HMI component that gauges future expectations made its first significant up tick in several months, rising 4 points to 30.
NAHB Chairman Joe Robson said builder expectation has been buoyed by the success of the first-time home buyer tax credit and its anticipated boost to buying activity leading up to the November 30 expiration date.
However, he expressed concern about continued market grown without the tax credit in the face of a continuing credit crunch and appraisal practices that, "scuttle a quarter of all new-home sales," Robson added.
Read the U.S. Census Bureau report.