U.S. homebuilders broke ground on more houses in July boosted by apartment construction, evidence of the recovering property market, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Friday. U.S. privately-owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000, 5.9 percent above the revised June estimate of 846,000. The level was below a five-year peak of more than 1 million in March, but is 20.9 percent above the July 2012 rate of 741,000. Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits, a gauge of future construction, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 943,000, 2.7 percent above the revised June rate of 918,000 and is 12.4 percent above the July 2012 estimate of 839,000. The U.S. housing industry, which suffered its worst slump in decades since 2006, has showed signs of steady improvement since last year.