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Economy

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Home construction rose 15 percent last month. Apartment building increased 25.1 percent.

Homebuilding surge could boost economy

Associated Press photos
U.S. builders said housing starts last month were at the fastest pace in four years.

– U.S. builders started construction on homes in September at the fastest rate since July 2008 and made plans to build even more homes in coming months. The gains show the housing recovery is strengthening and could help the economy grow.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that home construction rose 15 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 872,000. Single-family construction rose 11 percent to the fastest rate in four years. Apartment building increased 25.1 percent.

Applications for building permits, a sign of future construction, jumped nearly 12 percent to an annual rate of 894,000, also the highest since July 2008.

“If there was any doubt that the housing market was undergoing a recovery, even a modest one in the face of the terrible 2008 decline, those doubts should be erased by now,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG.

The construction rate has increased by more than 38 percent over the past 12 months.

Housing starts are now 82.5 percent above the recession low rate of 478,000 hit in April 2009. That’s still well short of the 1.5 million that economists consider healthy and far below the more than 2 million built in 2007 – the peak of the housing boom. But the steady upward trend suggests builders believe the housing rebound is durable.

“This is a good report,” said Patrick Newport, U.S. economist at HIS Global Insight. “It is telling us that the housing market is improving and there is no reason to think that this will not continue going forward.”

Record-low mortgage rates, stable price increases and a limited supply of previously occupied homes have made newly built homes more attractive to buyers.

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