According to this RISMedia article, Single-Family Starts and Permits Edge Higher in April, the number of new home starts increased by 2.8% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 368,000 units and the the number of permits for future construction also increased. The article mentions that low mortgage rates, low prices, the federal $8,000 tax credit and additional state specific tax credits were partially responsible for the boost.
I will tell you right now that this is the terrible news. Overbuilding spurred by easy to get loans was a major contributor to the current real estate mess. We do not need more new homes being built, especially if they are fuled by artifically low rates, which will eventually increase significantly, and tax credits. Only rookie buyers or truly marginal buyers would make the decision to buy a home based on a measy $8,000 to $15,000 in tax credits, especially given the fact that taxes are going to increase in order to pay for the "stimulus plan". Therefore, these buyers will have less money than they think after their tax credit is factored in. I predict that these buyers will have a high foreclosure rate and the overall foreclosure rate will contnue to be high. All of this will continue to depress prices in the very areas that were most affected by the real estate decline.
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