US home construction slumped in July

WASHINGTON (AP) - Homebuilders pulled back sharply on construction of apartment complexes in July, causing housing starts to tumble to a three-month low.

The Commerce Department says housing starts fell 4.8 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million. Groundbreakings for multi-family buildings such as apartments slumped 17.1 percent, while single-family house construction slipped 0.5 percent.

Home construction has increased 2.4 percent year-to-date, but the gains have done little to offset the dwindling number of homes listed for sale. The shortage of properties for sale has pushed price growth well above the gains in income, making home ownership less affordable.

Housing starts dropped in the Northeast, Midwest and West but rose modestly in the South.

Building permits, an indicator of future construction, decreased 4.1 percent to 1.22 million.