Housing starts decline in January

The million-starts milestone moved a step away from the home-building industry. But it remains well in sight, as data released Wednesday showed an 8.5% decline in the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts.

The January figure was 890,000, down from an upwardly revised December rate of 973,000, according to the new residential construction data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Compared with a year ago, the rate of total housing starts is up 23.6%. 

There was better news on the single-family front, where the rate of new housing starts increased to 613,000, the highest level since July 2008. Single-family starts were up 0.8% from December, and up 20.0% from the same month last year. 

Building permits in January were at a rate of 925,000, up 1.8% from the December rate of 909,000. 

On an unadjusted basis, January saw an estimated 58,500 total starts, and 39,600 single-family starts.