NAHB sees home construction on a roll

Housing starts were back at a million-plus pace in November, as Commerce Department stats reflected the healthiest residential construction industry since the Great Recession began. 

In its regular analysis of the number, the National Association of Home Builders piled on the good news by pointing to surveys that show builders are increasingly confident that buyers are getting off the bench and into the game. 

On an unadjusted basis, construction began on 82,800 homes in November – and 51,900 single-family homes. A year ago, those stats were 63,200 and 40,100. 

“This upward trend could be even stronger if not for persistently tight lending conditions for buyers and builders facing rising costs for building material, lots and labor,” said NAHB chairman Rick Judson.

As housing starts were up nationwide by 22.7%, the story varied by region. Residential construction activity rose 41.7% in the Midwest, 38.5% in the South and 8.8% in the West. Total starts actually fell 29.4% in the Northeast.

“Single-family and multifamily starts are at five-year highs, providing additional evidence that the recovery is here to stay,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “We hit a soft spot this fall when interest rates jumped and the government closed down, but mortgage rates still remain very affordable and pent-up demand is helping to boost the housing market. We expect a continued steady, gradual growth in starts and home sales in 2014.”

Overall building permits, which are an indicator of future building activity, fell 3.1% to 1.007 million units in November, but marked the second consecutive month of million-plus permits.