After Dismal Year, Homebuilders See Hope in 2012

home builder confidence
home builder confidence

WASHINGTON -- Builders ended 2011 with a third straight year of dismal home construction and the worst on record for single-family home building. But improvement at the end of the year lifted hopes for a recovery.

In December, builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 657,000 homes, the Commerce Department said Thursday. A third straight increase in single-family home building was offset by a drop in volatile apartment construction.

The housing market still appears years away from full health.

For the entire year, builders began work on 606,900 homes. That's slightly better than in the previous two years. But it's only about half the number that economists equate with healthy markets.