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KIRO Radio's Tom Kelly digs deep into the Puget Sound real estate market
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Housing starts soared 12.1 percent in December, reaching a 954,000 annual rate and the fastest pace since June 2008, the Commerce Department reported. (AP Photo/File)

Building activity at fastest pace in four years

Builders broke ground on new homes in December at the fastest pace in more than four years offering a "solid ending to 2012 and a promising start to 2013," according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Housing starts soared 12.1 percent in December, reaching a 954,000 annual rate and the fastest pace since June 2008, the Commerce Department reported. Most of the jump was attributed to a 20.3 percent increase in multifamily construction last month, helping the sector return to a nearly normal production pace by historical standards. Housing starts for single-family homes rose 8.1 percent in December.

"With inventories of new homes at razor thin levels, builders are moving prudently to break ground on new construction ahead of the spring buying season to meet increasing demand," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

Permits for future home building - an indicator of future building - also rose slightly in December to its quickest pace since July 2008. Permits rose by the greatest amount in the Northeast by 19 percent and 6.6 percent in the West.

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