Housing starts jumped 13.2% for April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,072,000, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens a PDF) released today. After clocking in at a revised 947,000 for March, this latest report came as a pleasant surprise for analysts, who had expected a smaller 3.5% rise. The gains reported today were driven by a 42.9% jump in the construction of apartments and condominiums. The rate of building single-family homes rose just 0.8%.

Source: Census.gov. Housing starts seasonally adjusted annual rate.

Housing permits also increased, up 8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,080,000. As with starts, analyst expectations of a 1,020,000 rate for permits proved overly conservative. Housing completions, on the other hand, finished off the month down 3.9% at an annual rate of 847,000. 

Across the country, gains were far from equal. While starts soared 42.1% in the Midwest and 28.7% in the Northeast, the West increased 11.1% and the South edged up just 1.5%. 

Over the last year, housing starts have increased 26.4%, permits are up 3.8%, and completions have gained 21.2%. 

Today's news comes a day after a report revealed that homebuilder confidence took a dip for May. But with National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist David Crowe saying that "builders are waiting for consumers to feel more secure about their financial situation," this report's coinciding increases for both starts and permits might point to sustainable expansion.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.