Housing Starts Beat Expectations In August

Housing starts surprised the industry with a boost in August, though building permits lagged at their slowest pace the last two years. Starts increased 12.2% month-over-month to an annualized rate of 1.575 million units in August, exceeding market expectations of 1.445 million. This is the largest jump since March last year. But while the data may be positive, housing still faces pressure from inflated material costs and rising interest rates. Single-family starts increased by only 3.4%. The unexpected jump was propelled by a 28.6% surge in demand for buildings with five or more units, suggesting builders are betting on the hot rental market to stay. That prospect doesn’t bode well for the homebuilders. Builder sentiment dropped three points in September,…

Housing Starts Plummeted In July

Homebuilding plummeted in July as both homebuyers and sellers continue to lose confidence in the market. Housing starts fell by a shocking 9.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.446 million units last month, according to new data released by the Commerce Department.  This is their lowest rate since February 2021 and significantly below market expectations of 1.53 million. Last month’s revised data put starts at a rate of 1.599 million units. A drop this big suggests the housing market still has room to contract in the third quarter of this year. Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics called the data “terrible” in a tweet Tuesday. Single-family starts fell 10.1%, their lowest in two years, while starts for units in…

June Home Purchase Apps Down 12% YOY

New home purchase applications fell 12% YOY in June, and were down 10% from May, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Builder Application Survey. New single-family home sales ran at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 620,000 units in June, down 14.7% from May’s pace of 727,000 units. The unadjusted rate was estimated to be 57,000 home sales, down 6.6% from 61,000 in May. New home sales are estimated using mortgage application information and assumptions regarding market coverage and other factors. “Higher mortgage rates and heightened economic uncertainty cooled borrower demand in June, leading to new-home purchase applications declining to the lowest level since April 2020,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting.  “Additionally, new…

Lumber Prices Are Toppling, But Will Home Prices Come Down With Them?

By CHUCK GREEN With lumber prices toppling, it might be the ideal time to knock on wood. Gently, though. It just might be a bit fragile at the moment. Year to date, prices have sagged around 50%, according to 7seasgroupusa.com. They recently sunk to their lowest point in nine months as they traded under the $600-per-thousand-board-feet mark. Conversely, a year ago, prices, fueled by pent-up demand for construction and home upgrades in the aftermath of COVID on the heels of a frenzy of speculation, reached $1,733, which was unprecedented.But as the housing market backed down in light of escalating interest rates, lumber prices have borne the brunt, receding more than 60% from their March highs, according to Business Insider. In May,…

Builder Confidence Drops, Signaling Trouble For The Housing Market

Builder confidence dropped two points in June to its lowest level since June 2020, according to the National Association of Home Builders(NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI asks builders for their opinions on current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months, as well as rate their traffic of prospective buyers. Any number under 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as worse than better. The HMI posted a reading of 67 for the month of June. It is the sixth consecutive month of decline for the index. NAHB’s press release called it a “troubling sign for the housing market.” “Six consecutive monthly declines for the HMI is a clear sign of a slowing housing…

Builder Profits Fell In 2020, The First Drop Since 2008

Builder gross profit margins fell to 18.2% in 2020, while net profits slipped to 7%, according to NAHB Builders’ Cost of Doing Business Study. This is the first profit margin decline since 2008. The study surveyed single-family builders across the U.S. It found that builders averaged $13.7 million in revenue for the fiscal year of 2020, of which $11.2 million (81.8%) was spent on costs of sales, such as land costs and construction costs. An additional $1.5 million (11.2%) was spent on operating expenses, such as marketing, administrative expenses, and owner’s compensation.  The study notes that shutdowns related to Covid-19 played a part in the results, as well as the need to navigate work-from-home models, supply-chain disruptions, and labor shortages.…

Single, Multifamily Growth Trended Opposite Directions In Last Half Of 2021

Single-family growth cooled in Q4 2021 while multifamily growth in high-density areas surged, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Home Building Geography Index (HBGI). The HBGI is a quarterly measurement of building conditions across the country and uses county-level information about single- and multifamily permits to gauge housing construction growth in various urban and rural geographies. “Multifamily production posted strong gains in all regional markets as the demand for apartments increased,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Meanwhile, supply-side constraints that include ongoing labor shortages and a lack of key housing products that include garage doors, appliances and windows has delayed single-family construction times across the nation and put upward pressure on home prices.” The price of…

Newly Built Home Share Hits Record-High

More than a third of US single-family homes for sale in December were newly built, the highest share on record, according to a new Redfin report. New construction accounted for 34.1% of single-family homes at the end of 2021, up from 25.4% year-over-year (YOY). These numbers are the result of builders trying to keep up with housing demand, which has increased while inventory dropped to historic lows. In December, existing-home inventory fell 14.2% YOY with a historic-low 1.8 months supply. However, new homes saw inventory increase 34.8% and had a 6 month supply. Though new home supply is rising, new home sales have remained consistent, which Redfin calls “another indicator that homebuyer demand is far outpacing supply.” “A lot of…