Home building, one of metro Atlanta's economic engines, has sputtered in recent years.

Home permits for region up 21 percent

Home construction in metro Atlanta grew at a rapid clip in the first five months of the year but remains well off its pre-recession pace.

The region recorded 8,250 permits for single-family homes from Januray through May, according to the Census Bureau. That was up 21 percent from the same period a year earlier.

In contrast, 25,089 permits were issued across the region in the first five months of 2006, just before the bust.

The housing construction spurt should continue both regionally and nationally for at least a few years, according to some economists.

Job growth and the increasing trend of millennials to start households will drive demand for apartments, while a rising birth rate and gradual shift from renting to owning will help spur drive demand for homes, said Selma Hepp of California-based Trulia.

“High confidence among builders bode well for construction going forward,” she said. “”We may be on the path to the best year in housing recovery.”

She said numbers for both single-family and multi-family construction in the south are stronger than in other regions.

Bolstering the housing optimism was a Census report Friday that showed a surge of construction in the spring. U.S. starts in June jumped by 9.8 percent from May, and by 26.6 percent from a year earlier.

Nationally, housing permits during the past three months are on the strongest pace since December 1982, Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner wrote in a comment on the report.

“Homebuilding is set to break through its low ceiling,” he said. “Homebuilding appears set to take off.”

Separately, Re/Max of Georgia on Friday said transactions in metro Atlanta are up 24 percent this year from last year, while inventory is 13 percent lower.

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