Housing starts dropped in March, according to figures just released by the US Census Bureau : Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 510,000. This is 10.8 percent (±11.6%)* below the revised February estimate of 572,000 and is 48.4 percent (±5.9%) below the March 2008 rate of 988,000. Single-family housing starts in March were at a rate of 358,000; this is unchanged (±16.2%)* from the revised February figure of 358,000. The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 116,000. Despite what was obviouslt a slow and trying month for their business, home builders are increasingly optimistic. According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) --released a day before the Census Bureau figures--builder confidence rose to its highest level since October, 2008: Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations in the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. Each of the HMI’s component indexes recorded substantial gains in April. The largest of these gains was a 10-point surge in the component gauging builder sales expectations for the next six months, which brought that index to 25. The component gauging current sales conditions and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers each rose five points, to 13 and 14, respectively. You can access detailed data on the HMI and builder confidence here . Read the Census Bureau report on March housing construction here .