The Commerce Department reported housing starts rose 2.6% nationwide in April 2012 as compared with March 2012, hitting a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000 units in April 2012, while posting a 29.9% increase from the seasonally adjusted annual rate of 552,000 units in April 2011. Single family homes increased 492,000 units while multi-family homes increased by 225,000 units. Single family homes registered growth of 2.3%, while multi-family homes recorded growth of 3.2%

“April’s increase in housing production comes on top of strong upward revisions to the previous month’s data, and is an encouraging sign that we are returning to a gradual, upward trend that should continue in the year ahead as builders respond to improving demand for new homes in certain markets.” “Unfortunately, overly restrictive lending conditions for builders and buyers are slowing the pace of this trend considerably.” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla

The NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe reported, “While still less than half the pace of what we would expect in a fully healthy market, the rate of housing production in April was very solid for this point of the recovery and in keeping with the findings of our latest builder surveys that have registered modest improvements in buyer traffic and near-term sales expectations for single-family homes,”

Regionally starts showed mixed results in April, as the Midwest region posted gains of 6.7% and the South region posted gains of 11.6%, while the Northeast region posted a decline of 20.7% and the West also posted a decline, totaling 8.1%

One indicator of future building activity, permit issuance, fell 7.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 715,000 units in April, due to a large gain in the issuance of permits in the previous month, an unsustainable number. Single family permits gained 1.9% for a total gain of 475,000 units, while multi-family permits posted a decline of 20.8% to a total of 240,000 units, a number that is more reflective of current trends

In March 2012, building permits posted a three and a half year high resulting from a surge in apartment construction permits. Permit activity regionally for the month of April remained unchanged in the Northeast region, however, the other three regions posted declines totaling 12.3% in the Midwest region, 3.2% in the South region, and 13.9% in the West region

According to housing statistics from NAHB, the annual total number of houses sold since 2007 have consistently been on the decline. In 2007, there were 776,000 units sold, but this number fell to 305,000 units sold for 2011. Following the trends from the first three months of 2012 so far, the current projection for 2012 is 337,000 units

Regarding housing completions, privately owned housing completions in April 2012 reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 651,000 units, a 10% increase from March 2012’s seasonally adjusted annual rate and a 20.1% increase from April 2011’s seasonally adjusted annual rate.