U.S. homebuilders began work at a slower pace in January than in December. But all of the drop occurred in the volatile area of apartment construction, which sank 24 percent. By contrast, the rate of single-family homebuilding rose 0.8 percent.
Even with the decline, the pace of home construction in January was the third-highest since 2008 and was evidence of strengthening in residential real estate. And in an encouraging sign for the rest of the year, applications for building permits topped December’s rate. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that builders started work at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000 homes last month. That was down 8.5 percent from December.