Housing starts in the U.S. climbed 7% from February to March and rose a dramatic 46.7% from year ago levels, the U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday.
Starts last month rose to an annual rate of 1.03 million units, up from 968,000 starts in February and above the 706,000 units recorded a year ago.
However, single-family starts alone declined reaching a rate of 619,000 in March, down 4.8% from the 650,000 units recorded in February.
Building permits also fell 3.9% from February to March, with only 902,000 permits filed last month. That compares to 939,000 units in February, but is still 17.3% above the 769,000 permits filed in March 2012.
Home completions, on the other hand, rose to a rate of 800,000 units in March, 11% above February’s level of 721,000 units and 36.3% above last year's estimate.
"This morning’s housing starts report showed a 7% rise in new home construction in March, the highest level in nearly five years," said Quicken Loans Chief Economist Bob Walters.
"Pent up demand is spurring growth in building as housing starts rose 7% in March. Homebuyers are itching for their dream home, and since the current inventory can’t keep up, consumers are opting to build. This is yet another sign of a strengthening economy along with last week’s boost in mortgage applications and ever growing home prices."