U.S. builders broke ground on fewer houses in November after starting work in October at the fastest pace in four years. Super storm Sandy likely slowed starts in the Northeast.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that builders began construction of homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000. That was 3 percent less than October's annual rate of 888,000, the fastest since July 2008.
Housing starts fell 5.2 percent in the Northeast in November compared with October. And compared with a year earlier, starts are down nearly 26 percent in the Northeast, the only region to record a drop in the past year.
Still, overall construction remains healthy. Housing starts were 21.6 percent higher last month than in November 2011. And permits rose to 899,000, the most since July 2008.
Housing starts are far above the annual rate of 478,000 touched in April 2009, the recession low. But they're still well short of the 1.5 million annual rate that is considered healthy.