US housing starts surged in April, rising to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.135 million, up 20.2 percent from the same time last year. Starts also saw a monthly increase of 9.2 percent over March, according to Commerce Department data released Tuesday.
The April tally was the highest amount of starts seen since November 2007 while the double digit percentage increase was the biggest since February 1991.
Single-family housing starts rose in April to a rate of 733,000, 16.7 percent above the revised March figures. The multi-family sector, which includes buildings with five units or more, counted 389,000 starts, a 31.9 percent monthly increase.
Calling it good news, the National Association of Realtors said in a press release that “new home construction is desperately needed to alleviate the on-going inventory shortage in much of the country. The longer-term trend shows multi-family activity essentially back to its historic norm, but single-family starts still need to rise by another 50 percent to get back to normal.”
Construction activity was up in nearly every major region of the country. Year-over-year, housing starts rose 52.1 percent in the Northeast, 3.5 percent in the South and 14.9 percent in the West. Only the Midwest saw a dip compared to April 2014, with housing starts declining by 10.5 percent.
In terms of future activity, building permits rose 10.1 percent year-over-year to the seasonally adjusted rate of 1.143 million. Permits were also up over March numbers by a rate of 6.4 percent.
The country also saw a spike in the completions of new homes. In April, the seasonally adjusted annual rate for housing completions was 986,000, a 20.4 percent increase over March and a 19.4 percent boost over April 2014.