By Ruth Mantell
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — New construction of U.S. houses rose 9.3% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 – the highest annual rate since April 2010 — with multi-family activity leading growth, according to Commerce Department data released Tuesday. Starts for multi-family residences rose 32.2% in November to a rate of 230,000, the highest level since September 2008. Meanwhile, starts of new single-family homes rose 2.3% to an annual rate of 447,000. Starts in October were revised down to 627,000 from a prior estimate of 628,000. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected an annual rate of 635,000 for starts in November. Building permits, a leading indicator of housing construction, rose 5.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 681,000, the highest annual rate since March 2010.