The report documents another dimension of the recovering housing market. The National Association of Home Builders said Thursday that their monthly confidence index rose for the third consecutive month in August. Online real estate tracker RealtyTrac reported this week that foreclosures rose marginally June to July, but came in 32 percent lower than July 2012.
Commerce said building starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000, which is 5.9 percent higher than the revised June estimate of 846,000 and 20.9 percent higher than July 2012.
Single-family housing starts slipped in July, down 2.2 percent, dropping from 604,000 in June to 591,000 in July.
The July rate for buildings with five or more units was 290,000 in the month, the department said.
Permits for building projects rose by 2.7 percent June to July, climbing to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 943,000 from a revised June estimate of 839,000.
Housing project completions in July came to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 774,000, which is 1.8 percent above the revised June rate of 760,000 and 15 percent above July 2012, the department said in a release issued jointly by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.