Construction of new homes returned to its highest level in a year and its second best since the recession, boosted by rebuilding efforts on the Gulf Coast and in Florida. Building permits also rose to their second highest total in more than two years suggesting the lively bulding market will remain after hurricane damage is repaired.
Housing starts rose 13.7 percent in October to 1.29 millon annualized and the prior month was revised higher to 1.135 million from 1.127 million, according to the Commerce Department on Friday. The median estimate was 1.185 million.
Starts for single-family homes inceased 5.3 percent to 877,000, the highest in eight months. Multi-family starts, a more volatile category, jumped 36.8 percent to 413,000 units. Permits, which enable but do not guarantee future construction and are a proxy for market optimism, rose 5.9 percent to 1.297 million from 1.225 million in September. Their estimate had been 1.247 millon.
The report said that single-family starts dropped 22.4 percent in the Northeast and 7.7 percent in the West. Starts gained 7.8 percent in the Midwest.
New construction in the South, which normally accounts for almost half U.S. activity, had plunged in late August and September as Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf Coast and Irma landed in Florida. Starts soared 17.2 percent in October as recovery began, with single-family dwellings climbing 16.6 percent, to 621,000, their highest level since 2007.
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