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The Housing Market: The Road Ahead

For a recent, comprehensive housing market forecast presented by Robert Dietz, Chief economist for the NAHB, click here. It is a webinar with audio, including informative slides, with insight on macroeconomics, material prices, regional housing starts and predictions for interest rates through 2020.

Some of the highlights and risks ahead: Remodeling market growth, 9% year over year, will outpace new construction growth. Single family housing starts are a projected 900,000 units this year, 20% of which are custom homes. As Gen Xers enter the market, followed closely by older millennials, town house construction will grow its share of the total housing market from 12% to 15%. Multi housing will peak at 390,000 units. Interest raises will rise with inflationary pressure.

The price for a new home is growing faster than the average income. 

The price for a new home is growing faster than the average income. 

New house affordability is still a challenge for first time buyers which bodes well for the sale of existing homes. An overall shortage of houses for sale will push the afore mentioned growth of the remodeling market. NAHB’s remodeling market forecast is likely conservative.

I told you so. In a previous blog, I wrote that the high cost of new construction, the aging housing stock and huge demand for home ownership among 30 somethings would bode well for old house remodeling, especially since these old houses are in cities and close- in walkable neighborhoods.

New houses are more expensive than existing homes. 

New houses are more expensive than existing homes. 

NAHB’s analysis also shows that the price of a new house is $20,000- $100,000 more expensive than an existing house.  The fixer upper house, whose new owner can make improvements over time, some of it D-I-Y improvements, is a good start for the first-time buyer. It used to be that 78% of median income home buyers could afford homeownership. Now that number is 67%. This accounts for the drop in overall home ownership and the increase of renters. But this is shifting back again: home ownership is rising as renters become owners. The move up housing type of choice, for renters who want to own, is fee simple townhouses.

Kids living with their parents, a phenomenon widely reported, continues its trend. Now 20% of 20 somethings still live at home compared to 12% twenty years ago. Group housing is more common whether its elderly parents moving in with their grown-up children; single people co- habitating or kids living in their parent’s basement.

Multifamily housing peaks in 2018.

Multifamily housing peaks in 2018.

Building material prices, like lumber, gypsum, aluminum and steel, are on the rise, in part because of tariffs and because of material shortages. Inflation in building material prices contributes to overall inflation which will cause the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates twice in 2019 to hit 5% by 2020.

Building material prices, like lumber, gypsum, aluminum and steel, are on the rise.

Building material prices, like lumber, gypsum, aluminum and steel, are on the rise.

Builder confidence and consumer confidence is at a twenty-year high. After several post-recession years of income stagflation, wages and disposable income are on the rise. Nevertheless 60% of home buyers surveyed are “dissatisfied” with what is available for the price. The new houses they see do not look like a good value. 

More reason for us to build good-value houses which meet the market’s needs and to position ourselves for serving the robust remodeling market.

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