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Tuesday's releases of housing starts and building permits for the month of February both came in better than expected. While housing starts just saw a modest beat (917K vs. 915K), building permits were significantly better than expected (946K vs. 923K) and at their highest level since mid-2008.

The charts below show housing starts on both an absolute (left side) and year/year (right side) basis. We also broke out the starts data in terms of single and multi-family unit starts. As shown, although this month's level is down from the recent peak of 982K in December, starts are still up 27.2% year/year. Single unit housing starts increased by 3K this month which was actually the third highest monthly reading since mid-2008 and represents a 31.4% increase compared to last year. Finally, multi -family starts increased by 4K to 299K representing a 20.5% increase over last year. If you are a housing bull, it is good to see the strength in single unit starts over the last two months.

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(click to enlarge)

Building permits in the month of February increased from 904K to 946K this month, representing a 33.8% increase versus last year. This month's increase in building permits was evenly split between single and multi-family units. Single family permits increased from 584K to 600K. That works out to a year/year increase of 25.5% increase. On the multi-family front, building permits increased by 26K to 346K for a year/year increase of 51%.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Source: Housing Starts And Building Permits Both Beat Expectations