2013 started strong for New Jersey homebuilders as they bounce back from the recession and Hurricane Sandy.

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Economic Analyst Patrick O'Keefe, of Cohn-Resnick in Roseland, said builders obtained twice as many construction permits this January compared to the same time a year ago. He said some of it had to do with Sandy rebuilding and some was new construction.

O'Keefe pointed out that builders are still on the long road back.

"These gains are still coming against four or five years of almost historic low levels of construction."

It was the best start of any year since 2007, due to a 52.5% year-on-year gain in single family permits and a more than doubling (+108.5%) of multifamily authorizations, which accounted for some two-thirds (64.5%) of the month's total approvals.

O'Keefe said most of the permitting was for multifamily units. But he said a good start is a good start.

"It looks like that's going to carry us through the year," he explained.

Almost as noteworthy: January's approvals exceeded December's (+5.3%) for the first time since 2001. Over the ensuing 11 years, the December-to-January drop had averaged -18.6%.