Housing permits, starts up in March

March saw an increase in housing starts.
March saw an increase in housing starts.
Workers who use construction equipment to build houses had reason to be happy in March, according to recent data from the government.

The U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that building permits for privately-owned home projects were at an annual rate of 685,000 during the third month of the year, marking a 7.5 percent improvement over February. When compared to March of last year, permits are up 34.1 percent.

Housing starts also saw a slight increase during the month, up 1.6 percent on February's mark of 616,000. In all, 626,000 home projects were started in March.

Breaking the data down further, authorizations for single-family homes were up 5.6 percent when compared to the second month of 2010. However, housing starts for these projects were down 0.9 in March.

One reason why a higher number of permits and starts were seen overall in March is the upcoming expiration of a tax credit for first-time homebuyers. The government is offering new homeowners an $8,000 incentive for purchasing, though they must do so by the end of April.

As a result, many consumers may be rushing to purchase a home before the deadline, which might have lead to an increase in permits and starts.