While still nothing to celebrate, September was the best month for housing starts since April, according to data released Tuesday by the Department of Commerce.
Total September housing starts came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000, a 0.3% increase above the upwardly revised August estimate. The September figure is also 4.1% above the September 2009 rate of 586,000.
Single-family housing starts were at a rate of 452,000, up 4.4% above the downwardly revised August figure of 433,000. While still near the record low pace of 420,000, it's the highest rate since May.
On a regional basis, single-family residential construction in the Northeast increased 66.7% compared with last month and increased 17.6% compared with the same month last year. However, in the South, year-over-year single-family starts declined 17.0%, and month-to-month starts were flat.
Building permits in September were at a rate of 539,000, down 5.6% from the revised August rate, and down 10.9% from the September 2009 estimate. Single-family building permits were up 0.5% to a rate of 405,000.