HOUSING STARTS ARE AT HIGHEST PACE IN 21 YEARS

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, housing starts rose 4.7 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.159 million units, the highest pace in 21 years. January's housing starts also were 11.6 percent above the pace of last year.

The pace of single-family home construction reached an all-time high of 1.76 million units. This was 2.7 percent above the December rate and 12.5 percent above January 2004.

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Multifamily housing starts increased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 399,000 units in January, 14 percent above the December pace and 8.1 percent above a year earlier.

Construction of new homes and apartments increased in the South by 18.8 percent and in the West by 1.9 percent for the month but declined in the Northeast and Midwest, regions that were slammed by winter storms. Construction in the Midwest fell by 12.5 percent and in the Northeast by 23.9 percent in January.

The number of building permits that were issued increased by 1.7 percent from the upwardly revised December pace to a seasonably adjusted rate of 2.105 million units. Single-family permit issuance increased 0.7 percent to a rate of 1.624 million units, the second-highest pace on record.

NEW PRIVATELY OWNED HOUSING UNITS STARTED (THOUSANDS OF UNITS, SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ANNUAL RATE)
Period Total 1 Unit 5 Units or more Northeast Midwest South West
January 2005 2,159 1,760 355 150 330 1,139 540
December 2004 2,063 1,713 301 197 377 959 530
November 2004 1,805 1,486 280 161 318 849 477
October 2004 2,065 1,662 362 176 389 947 553
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census

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