Because of a decline in construction in single-family homes, housing starts across the country posted a disappointing 3 percent from October to November (here's a link the full report), with big declines coming from the northeast because of construction delays caused by Hurricane Sandy. 

Starts were still ahead of last year and were the best in several years, but the promising measure is that applications for building permits - an indication of future construction - rose to highest level since the summer of 2008.

The report doesn't include data at the metro-area level, but we reported earlier this month (click here for the story) that robust construction of single-family houses and rental apartments helped create double-digit increases in permit applications in the Twin Cities metro. That means that while builders and developers are still digging their way out of one of a historic slump, 2012 is on track to be the turnaround year that the industry has been eagerly awaiting.

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