Housing starts declined by 4.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in December, even while figures for single-family homes climbed year-over-year, offering signs that it may unseat multifamily construction after several months.[IMAGE]
The ""Commerce Department"":http://www.commerce.gov/ reported the figures via the ""Census Bureau"":http://www.census.gov/.
Single-family housing starts went up 4.4 percent at a seasonally adjusted rate of 470,000, with the December rate for building construction with five units or more hovering around 147,000.
Building permits crept forward to an annual rate of 679,000, a[COLUMN_BREAK]
7.8-percent increase year-over-year and 0.1-percent annual increase month-over-month.
Analysts with ""Barclays Capital"":http://www.barcap.com/ said in a statement that market watchers should ""not read too much into the decline in multi-family activity this month,"" calling it ""an inherently much nosier series than single-family.
""We believe the results are consistent with our view that housing is in the early stages of a recovery which will take shape in 2012,"" the analysts said.
""Paul Diggle"":http://www.capitaleconomics.com/staff/property-economics/paul-diggle.html, a property economist with consultancy ""Capital Economics"":http://www.capitaleconomics.com/, wrote in a note that declines in housing starts were ""driven by a steep decline in the often volatile multi-family sector, while starts of single-family homes actually rose slightly.""
He said that the consultancy expected housing starts to rise to 750,000 in 2012, largely on a cusp of greater consumer demand.
""With demand set to improve this year, we think that homebuilding is past the low-water mark and will rise modestly in 2012,"" he said.
Analysts agree that record lows for mortgage rates ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô benefiting from an investor selloff that continues as a result of problems in Europe ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô continue to help homeowners back to market.