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 Housing Starts Top 1 million for first time in 5 years:

U.S. homebuilders broke the 1 million mark in March for the first time since June 2008. The gain signals continued strength for the housing recovery at the start of the spring buying season.As we have been reporting for over a year, home prices are rising. That is the good news. The bad news is that wages are not.

The overall pace of homes started rose 7 percent from February to March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.04 million, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Apartment construction, which tends to fluctuate sharply from month to month, led the surge: It jumped nearly 31 percent to an annual rate of 417,000, the fastest pace since January 2006.

A scarcity in ready-to-build land has many builders working to get local governments to approve new land for construction, he said. The process can take 12 to 18 months. A survey of homebuilders released Monday noted similar concerns.

The jump in home building is expected to contribute to economic growth in 2013 for a second straight year — a reversal from 2006 through 2011, when it held back the economy.

Steady job growth, near record-low mortgage rates and rising home values have encouraged more people to buy homes. In response to higher demand and a low supply of available homes for sale, builders have stepped up construction.
(Provided by Ken Gunn)

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