Starts climbed 12.1 percent last month to a 954,000 annual rate, exceeding all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists and the most since June 2008, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. For all of last year, construction began on 780,000 homes, up from 608,800 in 2011 and also the most since 2008.

Low borrowing costs and rising property values are spurring homebuyer traffic for the market that triggered the latest recession. Confidence among homebuilders such as Lennar Corp. (LEN) is improving, even as tight credit remains an obstacle to further progress in residential real estate's healing.

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