US housing starts rise more than forecast to 8-month high

U.S. home construction starts strengthened in November to the fastest pace in eight months, suggesting builders are making a bit more headway on backlogs against a backdrop of lingering supply and labor constraints.

Residential starts rose 11.8% last month to a 1.68 million annualized rate, according to government data released Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 1.57 million pace.

Applications to build, a proxy for future construction, climbed to an annualized 1.71 million units in November.

Demand for new properties -- fueled by low mortgage rates, a dearth of options in the resale market, and a pandemic-era desire for more space -- has held firm despite exorbitant prices. A measure of confidence among homebuilders reached a 10-month high in December on stronger sales and greater foot traffic from prospective buyers.

Still, supply chain delays and labor shortages have driven up costs and hampered developers' ability to break ground on new projects.

Single-family starts increased 11.3% in November to an annualized pace of 1.17 million units, also the strongest since March. Multifamily starts -- which tend to be volatile and include apartment buildings and condominiums -- jumped almost 13% to a 506,000 rate, the fastest since February of last year.

In a sign that builders are chipping away at backlogs, the number of one-family housing units still under construction increased to 752,000 in November, the most since 2007.

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