Housing Starts Hit a Nearly 21-Year High

Washington, DC, February 16--Housing starts rose 4.7 percent in January to a nearly a 21-year high, according to an announcement from the Commerce Department. Starts during the month rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.159 million units, from an upwardly revised 2.063 million unit pace in December. Analysts were expecting a decrease of 4.3 percent in January starts to a level of 1.917 million unit rate from the 2.004 million unit rate initially reported for December. Single-family housing starts in January were up 2.7 percent to a record 1.760 million unit. Building permits rose 1.7 percent to a pace of 2.105 million units during the month. Rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 5.57 percent in the week ended Feb. 10, and 5.8 percent for all of 2004, according to mortgage funder Freddie Mac. On a regional basis, starts increased 18.8 percent in the South and 1.9 percent in the West. They decreased 23.9 percent in the Northeast and 12.5 percent in the Midwest.