WASHINGTON – U.S. single-family housing starts rose to a fresh record high in November, as persistently low mortgage rates fueled strong demand for housing, a government report showed on Tuesday.
Total U.S. housing starts (search) — consisting of single and multi-family homes — unexpectedly jumped 4.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.070 million units in the month from an upwardly revised 1.980 million units, the Commerce Department (search) report indicated. That was the highest pace since February 1984.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected starts to slide to 1.920 million units.
Single-family starts jumped 3.3 percent to 1.695 million units in November from an upwardly revised 1.641 million units.
Permits, an indication of builder confidence in future home sales, dipped 5.4 percent to 1.874 million from October's upwardly revised 1.981 million.
U.S. housing activity has boomed as the interest rate for the popular 30-year fixed rate mortgage has hovered above 40-year lows reached in early June. U.S. homebuilder optimism about future sales and traffic was unchanged in December from November, a trade association reported on Monday.
The National Association of Home Builders (search) said its members believe mortgage rates — on average 5.88 percent for the long-term home loan last week — are still low enough to encourage home buying.