U. S. home building ticked up in July thanks to a surge in construction of single-family homes, the latest sign of momentum in the housing market.

Housing starts rose 0.2% from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.21 million last month, the highest since October 2007, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That is the third time in four months the figures reached a new high since the recession began.

Starts on single-family units, which exclude apartments and represent almost two-thirds of the market, jumped 12.8% to their highest level since December 2007. Multifamily units, including apartments and condominiums, fell 17%.

Construction levels for new homes remain historically low, though there are continued signs of growing underlying demand. Starts were 10.1% higher in July than a year ago, and permits were up 7.5%.

New applications for building permits, a bellwether for construction in coming months, declined 16.3% to 1.1 million.