Gains were concentrated in the single family sector, where starts activity rose 7.4% after a 3.4% gain. Multi-family starts declined 14.3% after a 25.5% surge in January.
Geographically, activity was the strongest in the West with a 14.0% rise following a 3.6% drop. Starts in the Midwest and South rose a tame 0.8% and 0.9%, respectively. Activity in the Northeast fell 9.3% after jumping 11.8%.
Permits were up 1.8% to a 1.752 million unit clip, following a revised 1.721 million unit rate (1.706 million previously).
Overall, while low mortgage rates remain a crucial support to the housing sector, unseasonably warm weather looks to again have been a culprit. This is shaping up to be a great first half for homebuilders, as a recovering economy combined with still low mortgage rates should underpin the sector through the second quarter. From Standard & Poor's Global Markets