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Housing Starts Tumble

Home builders slammed on the brakes during March, beset in part by bad weather, and housing starts tumbled 17.6 percent, their biggest one-month drop in 14 years.

Coming off a record February, when housing starts hit their highest level in 32 years, all four of the nation's regions posted declines, three of them in the double-digits, sending overall starts down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.84 million units, down from 2.23 million units during February.

Single-family home starts fell 14.4 percent, to a 1.54 million unit rate during March. And multifamily starts, which tend to fluctuate from month to month, plummeted 31 percent, cooling off after exceptionally large gains in January and February.

Breaking activity out on a regional basis, starts were off 29.3 percent in the Midwest; 18 percent in the South; 12.7 percent in the West; and 3.6 percent in the Northeast.

“The March decline in housing starts was, to some degree, weather-related, said David Seiders, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders.

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