Building permits surge to 17-month high

In the latest sign of improvement in the housing market, applications for permits to build new homes jumped 7.5% in March, the government said recently. The Commerce Department said the number of building permits issued during March, considered a gauge of future construction activity, and rose 7.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 from February’s revised 637,000 rate.

The March tally was the highest since October 2008, when 729,000 permits were issued. Permits were up 34.1% versus March 2009. Despite the increase in permits, many analysts say the market for new homes faces a slow recovery given the large surplus of foreclosed properties.

The majority of permits issued in March, 543,000, were for single-family homes. However, analysts said the 142,000 increase in permits for multi-family homes was encouraging. The South had the largest number of permits issued, at 360,000, while the Northeast, at 66,000, had the fewest.

Source: CNNMoney.com, Ben Rooney, (04/16/2010)

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