With existing homes in short supply, buyers are turning to new homes. Prices are up, partly because more move-up homes are being sold, and inventory is low.
Officials cite costs and terrain as reasons, despite the prevalence of tornadoes.
The zigzag numbers for single-family construction and permits are tracking the zigzag nature of the housing-market recovery.
Despite challenges, the number of housing starts and building permits is up over 2012. Single-family numbers are down from last month.
The shortage of used homes for sale should be good news for sellers of new homes. But the building industry is still struggling to gear up after the recession.
The total was up 12.3% year over year. Builders say shortages of labor and lots, as well as the rising price of materials and tight credit, are holding back sales.
A recent book looks at the history of homes built by hand, a movement that was particularly strong in the 1960s and '70s.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.