Builders, however, continue to struggle with labor and land shortages as well as more expensive lumber. A survey on Wednesday showed confidence among homebuilders slipping from an 18-year high in January. Builders expected a dip in buyer traffic and sales over the next six months.
Last month, single-family home building, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, tumbled 11.8 percent to a rate of 836,000 units. Single-family home construction fell in the South, the Northeast, and Midwest. It was unchanged in the West.
Starts for the volatile multifamily housing segment rose 1.4 percent to a rate of 356,000 units. Building permits edged down 0.1 percent to a rate of 1.302 million units in December. Building permits increased 4.7 percent to 1.263 million units in 2017, also the highest level since 2007.
Single-family home permits advanced 1.8 percent in December, while permits for the construction of multifamily homes fell 3.9 percent.