The first three months of 2014 brought some encouraging signs for the homebuilding market in New Jersey -- and the latest good news on that front: Permits for new construction reached a seven-month high during the month of March.

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In fact, New Jersey homebuilders took out 2,330 construction permits last month. That's the largest number since last August.

Patrick O'Keefe, director of economic research at CohnReznick in Roseland, said the combination of these statistics adds up to a big positive for the industry.

"All of the numbers look very good," O'Keefe said. "We're not back to where we were, or where we'd like to be, but we're moving in the right direction."

Most of the new permits taken out in the Garden State in March were for multifamily construction, primarily meaning apartment construction. The March permits were the second-highest total for any month since mid-2008.

"The state's building industry, while it's still well below where we were prior to the meltdown, is showing real signs of strength," O'Keefe said.

He also said that construction permits for single-family homes typically soared in March, but when adjusted for the season, those figures remained flat. Single-family permits usually are issued immediately before construction of a unit is about to start, so they are sensitive to the current season.