Regionally, combined single- and multifamily housing production increased 6.4% in the South but fell 8.1% in the Northeast, 12% in the West and 16.3% in the Midwest.
"On a month-to-month basis the residential construction market cooled, with housing starts coming in at 1.29 million, a four percent national decline", said Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater. Permits for single-family homes rose 0.9 percent in April, but are below their recent highs seen in the winter months.
Housing production slipped in April compared to revised March figure but starts and permits remained above those of a year earlier.
The building slowdown - amid shortages of labor and space as well as rising supply costs and inclement weather - suggested April's housing construction could contribute less than expected to overall economic growth in the second quarter. Privately-owned housing completions in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,257,000, which is 2.8 percent above the revised March estimate of 1,223,000 and 14.8 percent above the April 2017 rate of 1,095,000.
"With these fundamentals in place, the housing market should improve at a steady, gradual pace in the months ahead".
Single family starts came in flat mostly, rising 0.1 percent. Single-family homebuilding has lost momentum since setting a 948,000-unit pace last November, which was the strongest in more than 10 years.
However, experts believe that despite the uptick in April, starts for single-family homes are stagnating. Home builders are struggling with higher prices for lumber and other building materials and a shortage of skilled laborers.
The Trump administration in April previous year imposed anti-subsidy duties on imports of Canadian softwood lumber. Single-family units under construction increased 1.0 percent to the highest level since June 2008.
The leading construction indicators performed generally as analysts had predicted in April, stepping back from March's solid increases in both permits and housing starts.
"Multi-family units are at lower price points and include significant rental units", he said. This number is more volatile than the single-family number and has moved mostly sideways since 2013.