US builders in November broke ground on homes at the fastest pace in more than five years, but applications for building permits edged down from the prior month, U.S. Department of Commerce reported Wednesday. U.S. privately-owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual level of 1.09 million in November. It was 22.7 percent higher than the revised October estimate and was 29.6 percent above the year-ago level. Single-family housing starts in November were at a level of 727,000, 20.8 percent above the revised October figure of 602,000. Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits, a gauge of future construction, were at a seasonally adjusted annual level of about 1.01 million, down 3.1 percent from the revised October level. It remained 7.9 percent above the November 2012 estimate. The U.S. housing industry, which suffered its worst slump in decades since 2006, has showed signs of steady improvement since last year.