Groundbreaking on new U.S. homes surged in September to its fastest pace in more than four years, a sign the housing sector's budding recovery is gaining traction.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday housing starts increased 15 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 872,000 units. That was the quickest pace since July 2008, though on housing starts is volatile and subject to substantial revisions.
"This is pretty clear evidence that there is really momentum in the housing market," said Michael Hanson, senior economist, Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Augusts' starts were revised to show a 758,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 750,000.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast residential construction rising to a 770,000-unit rate.
The housing starts rate is now about 40 percent of its peak in January 2006. The housing market, the Achilles heel of the recovery from the 2007-09 recession, is slowly healing.
September groundbreaking for single-family homes, the largest segment of the market, rose 11 percent to a 603,000-unit pace - the highest level since August 2008. Starts for multi-family homes climbed 25.1 percent.
Building permits grew by 11.6 percent to a 894,000-unit pace in September. August's permits were unrevised at 801,000 units.
Economists had expected permits to rise to a 810,000-unit pace last month.