In a strong sign that the housing market is rebounding, housing starts in the final month of 2012 hit their best mark in four years according to figures released by the federal government. The nation’s homebuilders broke ground on 954,000 new homes in December, 12 percent more than November and 36 percent more than in December 2011. Building permits and housing completions also saw significant increases.
The figures, reported by the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), found that housing starts have improved across all U.S. regions, with the Northeast reporting a 21.4 percent climb between November and December 2012 and a 37.1 percent leap from December 2011. In the West, starts improved by 18.7 percent between November and December 2012 and showed a whopping 57.4 percent leap from the year prior.
The number of authorized privately-owned building permits rose nationwide by 28.8 percent for the year, and 30.3 percent more housing units were authorized for building permits within that same time frame. An estimated 651,000 housing units were completed in 2012 — an 11.4 percent increase from 2011 figures.
Some experts, such as Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities, view the numbers with caution, warning that they may reflect a seasonal upswing. However, the National Association of Homebuilders reports that its members’ confidence in the demand for new homes is at its highest level since 2006.