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Total housing starts increased 3.2 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.37 million units, according to new data from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department.

The November reading of 1.37 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts increased 2.4 percent to a 938,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate off downwardly revised estimates for recent months.

The multi-family sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 4.9 percent to a 427,000 pace.

“Market conditions for single-family starts are positive, given a lack of resale inventory, low interest rates and a solid job market,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Builder confidence points to additional gains as we look forward.”

“Since the rebound in housing took hold earlier this year, single-family starts have posted a steady improvement in the pace of construction,” said NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz. “Under the current estimates, the 2019 year-to-date total for single-family construction is just 0.4 percent lower than the 2018 sum, and is on pace to come in relatively flat for the year.”

On a regional and year-to-date basis, combined single-family and multi-family starts in November are 0.9 percent higher in the Northeast and 7.4 percent higher in the South. Starts are down 5.8 percent in the Midwest and 8.7 percent in the West.

Overall permits, which are a harbinger of future housing production, increased 1.4 percent to a 1.48-million-unit annualized rate in November. Single-family permits inched up 0.8 percent to a 918,000 rate while multi-family permits increased 2.5 percent to a 564,000 pace.

Looking at regional permit data on a year-to-date basis, permits are 11.6-percent higher in the Northeast and 4.8-percent higher in the South. Permits are down 3.3 percent in the Midwest and off 0.6 percent in the West.

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