Housing starts in February rose 4.2 percent from a year ago to 71,966 units, up for a third straight month, the land ministry said Friday.
The increase was led by growth in construction starts for owner-occupied housing and condominiums.
Starts for owner-occupied housing, such as custom-built houses, rose 9.9 percent to 21,992 units, up for the fifth consecutive month, with interest rates staying low and financial institutions willing to increase lending on the back of rising land prices.
Starts of housing for sale, including condominiums, jumped 11.4 percent to 21,190 units, thanks chiefly to increases in Chiba and Aichi prefectures.
By contrast, starts for housing for rent fell 5.1 percent to 27,921 units, down for the sixth month in a row, due to tighter screenings of loan applications for housing for investment.