RTTNews - A government report released Tuesday showed that new home construction plunged again in April, with the pace of building falling to a new record low.
A rebound in the western part of the country blunted the decline somewhat, but other regions saw a substantial decline. A drop-off in multi-family dwellings, like apartment buildings, was the main cause of April's drop.
While some declines might be expected as the housing market continues to work off excess inventories, the surprise fall undercut recent hopes that the bottom for the long-suffering home building industry was in sight.
The U.S. Commerce Department announced that housing starts dropped 12.8 percent in April to an annual rate of 458,000. The result for March was revised to a rate of 525,000 units, a decline of 8.5 percent from the previous month.
Analysts had expected starts to rise to a pace of 540,000 units from the rate of 510,000 units that was originally reported for March.
Building permits, a measure of future home building, were also down, dropping 3.3 percent to an annual rate of 494,000.
Sharp declines in most areas of the country more than offset a sharp rebound in the West, where a large amount of the foreclosure activity and housing woes have taken place.
In the Western region, housing starts jumped 42.5 percent, rebounding after declines in March and February of 29.2 percent and 18.1 percent, respectively.
Elsewhere in the country, starts were sharply lower across the board. The Northeast saw a 30.6 percent decline, the Midwest experienced a 21.4 percent drop and the South recorded a 21.1 percent fall.
Starts for multi-family homes plunged 42.2 percent, offset somewhat by a 2.8 percent rise in single-family homes.
The results for single-family homes have shown mild, but steady improvement over the last couple months. After a flat showing in February, there was a 0.3 percent increase in March.
Meanwhile, multi-family starts were down 33.8 percent in March, following a rebound of 72.9 percent in the previous month.
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