Single-family housing starts jumped 5.7% in October to a new monthly record, and housing economists are wondering whether a 26-year-old annual record is about to fall.The Census Bureau reported that single-family starts increased from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.53 million in September to 1.62 million in October. The annual record for single-family starts -- 1.45 million units -- was set in 1977. Last year, single-family starts totaled 1.36 million units. "Whether we are going to beat the 1977 total still depends on what happens the next couple of months," said Michael Carliner, an economist with the National Association of Home Builders. "But I think single-family starts will probably set a record. And we are fairly sure that single-family new-home sales and existing-home sales will set records." In 1997, there was a lot of overbuilding and building on speculation without a buyer lined up. "Today, there is very little spec building," Mr. Carliner said.

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