New estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show construction of new single-family homes spiked in July, rising 12.8 percent above June’s figure. Housing starts have now been above a one million-unit pace for fourth straight months. After years when new-home construction lagged behind other economic indicators, housing starts are now at their highest level since October 2007. The improvement adds to a number of upbeat economic reports released recently that indicate the economy and housing market have started the third quarter on a strong note. But despite the gains, the number of permits to build new homes – which are generally a good indicator of future construction activity – fell 1.9 percent from the month before. Still, industry analysts believe the decline will only be temporary, as permits have seen many months of increases and builder confidence reached a 10-year high in August. Regionally, single-family home building hit a 7-year high in the South but fell 27.5 percent in the Northeast due to expiring tax incentives. More here.