WASHINGTON, DC-New single-family housing startsreached 891,000 in August from a revised 883,000 the prior month,while building permits reached a seasonallyadjusted 918,000, including 268,000 for multifamily projects,according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday. Bothfigures represented year-over-year improvements but offered a mixedcomparison to July numbers, with starts up 0.9% and permits down3.8% compared to July. Analysts polled by Bloomberg had projected amedian figure of 917,000 for new starts.

The Commerce Department data followed Tuesday's report by theNational Association of Home Builders that thebuilder confidence index was unchanged at 58—the highest levelsince 2005—following four months of steady improvement. “Followinga solid run-up in builder confidence over the past year, we areseeing a pause in the momentum as consumers wait to see whereinterest rates settle and as the headwinds of tight credit,shrinking supplies of lots for development and increasing laborcosts continue,” says the association's chief economist,David Crowe.

Further, NAHB says that results of its latest NAHB/Wells FargoHousing Market Index, derived from a monthly survey conducted forthe past 25 years, were mixed in September. Although the componentgauging current sales conditions held unchanged at 62 from themonth prior, sales expectations for the next six months declinedthree points to 65 and the component gauging traffic of prospectivebuyers increased one point, to 47.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.