MADISON, Wis. (10/22/09)--U.S. housing construction has strong fundamentals and is prevailing against economic forces, Bill Hampel, chief economist at the Credit Union National Association, told MarketWatch Tuesday. “[Housing construction is] holding its own against some strong headwinds,” Hampel told MarketWatch. The industry’s fundamentals are sound because of low mortgage rates and relatively low home prices. There’s also pent-up demand for housing, he added. Housing starts are down 28% in the past year, with starts of single-family homes 8.7% below par, and starts of apartments and condos nosediving 69%, MarketWatch said. In September, new construction of U.S. housing was basically flat with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Factoring in September’s 0.5% estimated increase, housing starts have been flat for four consecutive months, following a large rebound earlier this year from historic lows, analysts said. Since hitting the bottom in January, housing starts have increased 21%, analysts added.