According to a U.S. Commerce Department report released yesterday, housing starts rose in January to a rate of 1.012 million, a 0.8 percent increase from the revised December 2007 total. But the January figure was 27.9 percent lower than during the same period last year. The Northeast and Midwest regions posted month-over-month increases of 18.9 percent and 12.0 percent respectively, while housing starts fell 2.9 percent in the South and 6.2 percent in the West. All four regions posted substantial year-over-year declines: 33 percent in the Northeast; 16.3 percent in the Midwest; 24.2 percent in the South; and 39.6 percent in the West.
New-home permit authorizations fell 3 percent last month, to 1.048 million. Permits were 33.1 percent below the January 2007 estimate of 1.566 million.
Builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes rose slightly this month, according to the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index report. Despite the modest boost in builder confidence, the index remains near its all-time low.