Housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000, up 2.6 percent compared with a revised figure for March of 699,000.
The rate of single-family housing starts in the month was 492,000, which was 2.3 percent above the revised annual rate for March of 481,000.
For multiple-unit housing starts -- projects with five or more living units -- the annual rate in March came to 217,000.
Permits issued for privately owned housing units dropped 7 percent in April to an annual rate of 715,000. A year earlier in April, the annual rate for permits issued stood at 578,000. The new rate is a 23.7 percent climb over the rate 12 months prior.
Permits issued are an indicator of what direction construction starts might take one or two months down the road.
Completed housing projects in April were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 651,000, which is 10 percent above the revised figure for March, estimated at 592,000 units, and 20.1 percent above April 2011 when 542,000 housing completions were posted.