The NAHB Housing Market Index in the United States fell to 64 in July of 2017 from a downwardly revised 66 in June, below market expectations of 67. It is the lowest reading in eight months. The index of current single-family home sales went down 2 points to 70; sales expectations over the next six months declined 2 points to 73 and buyer traffic edged down 1 point to 48. Nahb Housing Market Index in the United States averaged 49.44 from 1985 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 78 in December of 1998 and a record low of 8 in January of 2009.
Construction on new houses fell in May for the third month in a row even though builders are optimistic about the economy, perhaps a sign a shortage of skilled workers is holding the industry back.
The pace of so-called housing starts declined by 5.5% to an annual rate of 1.09 million, marking the lowest level in eight months. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast housing starts to total 1.23 million.
Home builders are now working at a slower pace than they were one year ago. They’ve especially pared back on apartment buildings and other large multi-dwelling units, giving more emphasis to single-family homes.
Part of the recent slowdown might reflect a bit of a pause after an unusually warm winter during which builders were much busier than usual. Some economists contend a higher level of construction that occurred earlier in the year would have normally taken place in the spring.
The residential #construction data may be experiencing some payback from favorable weather over the winter
Yet builders increasingly complain they cannot find enough good construction workers to get the job done and that could be constricting them. Consider the recent slide in building permits. They fell 4.9% in May to an annual rate of 1.17 million, the lowest level in 13 months.
Permits are also below year-ago levels,
In May, the biggest drop-off occurred in the South and Midwest. Construction rose slightly in the West and was flat in the Northeast.
For years the housing market has experienced a mini-renaissance of sorts as a steadily growing economy, rising employment and ultra-low interest rates enabled home people to buy homes.
The outlook might not be as favorable now, though. Aside from widespread labor shortages, prices for wood and other raw materials have also risen. And the Federal Reserve has embarked on a series of increases in a key U.S. interest rate that helps determine the cost of borrowing, a potential brake on future sales..
Find your way to The Market on Spring for fresh foodie fare in a quaint setting.
PHOTOS COURTESY MARKET ON SPRING
Most Northern Westchesterites who drive Route 35 are on a mission — to get from one town to another in a hurry, to make a train, or to pick up their kids. But, there’s a charming spot just minutes off this busy thoroughfare that’s certainly worth the detour.
The Market on Spring is at the center of the tiny but lovely hamlet of South Salem. Antiques, a riding academy, a tack shop, and cozy tavern are just about all you’ll find here, but that’s what makes it so wonderful. The small market is the perfect fit, renovated last year in a mix of natural wood and rustic metal, and serving carefully sourced, high-quality fare for breakfast and lunch. Though tucked away, the shop is attracting a steady stream of customers, explains manager and Vista native Bryce O’Brien. “People tell us they’ve lived in the area for years and have never made the turn onto Spring Street, never knew ‘anything was here,’ but now they’ve found us.”
Maybe word is getting out about the delicious sandwiches made from New York State grass-fed beef, or cage- and hormone-free turkey (all roasted in-house by Market’s chefs), with condiments such as chipotle remoulade, onion jam, and honey mustard aioli. The organic egg breakfast sandwiches (options include house-cured salmon and homemade chorizo) are also gaining a dedicated following. O’Brien says the shop’s country industrial decor and elevated deli menu are especially appealing to city folk who weekend at homes on nearby Lake Truesdale. Well, we suburbanites know a good thing when we see it, too!
Sales of newly constructed homes stumbled in April, as builders retreated after a March surge that marked the strongest selling pace in a decade.
New-home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 569,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was well below the MarketWatch consensus forecast of a 610,000 annual rate, but was offset by sharp upward revisions to data from prior months.
In particular, March’s pace was raised to a pace of 642,000, the highest since October 2007.
April’s figures were 11.4% lower for the month, but 0.5% higher than in the same period a year ago.
The government’s new-home sales data are based on small samples and are often heavily revised. Total sales in the first four months of the year are 11% higher compared with the same period a year ago.
In April, the median sales price for a new home was $309,200, down from $318,700 in March and $321,300 in the year-ago period. As the pace of selling decelerated, there were 5.7 months’ worth of homes available, up from 4.9 months in March. A market with a healthy balance between supply and demand typically has about 6 months’ worth of inventory.
One factor worth noting, April was one of the rainiest months in decades, and that may have helped dent sales. Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia chief economist, said while he wasn’t worried about data from one month, builders still have a way to go before residential construction normalizes.
“If we compare the share of new home sales to total sales, that share needs to more than double,” McLaughlin wrote in a Tuesday note. New-home sales made up nearly 12% of total sales, about half the historical average, he said.
The 12-month rolling total of sales rose to 88.3% of their 50-year average, McLaughlin added.
One of President Trump’s common refrains on the campaign trail was that he would help rebuild the country’s crumbling infrastructure, leaning on his extensive experience in real estate and development to shepherd forth a plan to cut red tape, move projects forward, and put this country to work.
More than 100 days into his administration, his grand design has yet to take shape, though it’s been a constant source of conversation in D.C. There has been movement over the last few days, with reports saying that the Trump team has solicited bids for potential infrastructure investments from across the country and looks toward releasing a plan in the fall that would steer $200 billion of public money to infrastructure investment.
Curbed spoke to infrastructure experts to get their take on Trump’s nascent plans: what should be included, what to watch for as plans come together, and its chances to clear both houses of Congress and help America get to work.
Watch the numbers
Henry Petroski, a Duke professor and infrastructure expert, says that spending on roads and construction is “like apple pie and motherhood—everybody’s for it.” There’s a lot of talk about some kind of plan, a proposal both candidates supported last year, and representatives and senators will have a tough time voting against it, Petroski says. It’s still taking shape, but based on previous reports and statements from Trump administration officials, it would include a combination of government investment, new funding mechanisms to encourage private investment, and regulatory reform to help accelerate approvals and construction timelines.
That makes it all the more important to watch how funding is allocated. The trillion-dollar proposal the Trump administration is developing sounds like a lot, and it is: The federal government’s annual budget is about $3.8 trillion, including entitlements such as Social Security and Medicaid. Petroski believes the spending will most likely be spread out over 10 years, which means a 100 billion dollars annually, roughly double the amount currently being spent on roads and bridges. Doubling funding is a big deal, but it’s important to put things in perspective.
“We can’t just look at the headlines that say $1 trillion; we need the details,” he says. “This isn’t just an issue with this administration, however. This happens with every administration.”
Will states take the lead?
While the Trump administration has promised to have a plan together by this fall, some analysts, such as Petroski, are skeptical. He feels that health care and other priorities may derail infrastructure this year, at least on the federal level.
Federal delays in approving new spending, however, have spurred many cities and states to take action. Federal infrastructure is tagged to the gasoline tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993 (Trump has flirtedwith the idea of raising it to fund infrastructure spending). But many states have raised their own rates or passed spending measure to fund infrastructure (federal dollars are, on average, only responsible for 25 percent of infrastructure spending, according to Petroski).
“Close to half the states have raised the state gasoline taxes in the last couple of years, and the others are considering it,” he says. “They simply can’t wait for the federal government to do something.”
Will we build green infrastructure?
In addition to how much we’re going to spend on infrastructure, another big question is what we’re going to spend money on. Armando Carbonell, a senior fellow and urban policy expert at the Lincoln Institute, says one of the biggest problems with any Trump infrastructure plan is the administration’s stance on climate change. It’s not just that any potential new construction may ignore public transit and sustainable options that reduce carbon emissions, it’s that not acknowledging a changing climate means money will be misspent.
“We need infrastructure to protect communities from the effects of climate change that can’t be avoided,” he says. “Sea-level rise, flooding, the effects of wildfires; in many cases, there are infrastructure needs that should be a priority, such as protecting coastal cities. If we don’t take climate change into account, we may well build infrastructure that is vulnerable. There are simple things we can do, such as building on higher elevations, that take account of a rising sea level. If we don’t do that, any investment might be a bad one.”
How will regulations be changed?
One of Trump’s promises has been that by creating a new regulatory system, reforming current processes, and encouraging public-private investments (or P3s) he can cut red tape and move long-stalled projects forward. Like other aspects of an infrastructure overhaul taking shape, the devil is in the details.
Carbonell says proper oversight and regulatory update could give the sector a massive upgrade, saving time and money. There are “great benefits” to looking at what and how we do things, especially the procurement and finance processes.
“I don’t have a black or white view of P3s, other than to say people need to be careful and look out for the public interest,” says Carbonell. “With proper regulations and design, P3s may be part of the solution. But we can’t get something for nothing. If we want a trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure, we need to spend a trillion dollars.”
Others have a more pessimistic view of pushing for more private investment in infrastructure. According to urbanist and journalist Yonah Freemark, the push for privatization in infrastructure investment is consistent with Trump’s rhetoric—Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has been open to finding new private funding sources for infrastructure, and the proposed Trump budget does make massive cuts in public transportation spending—but will also significantly shape the way any new infrastructure policy works.
“One thing we know is that there’s no way private-sector entities would be involved with an infrastructure project unless it involves user fees or ways to make revenue,” he says. “That makes sense; why would you invest in a project that couldn’t make money? But that changes the decision-making process. It’s the perspective of a profit-making private company, not the public sector.”
That translates into support for moneymaking projects, such as pipelines, toll bridges, and toll roads, not, say, water pipes, or roadways in less dense rural areas, according to Freemark.
What kind of jobs will it provide?
Trump has also promoted infrastructure as a jobs program to help with unemployment. According to Scott Myers-Lipton, a professor of sociology at San Jose State University and author of Rebuild America: Solving the Economic Crisis through Civic Works and Social Solutions to Poverty, it’s tough to “square the circle” when it comes to providing high-wage jobs while cutting regulations (and potentially, labor protections) and encouraging private investment.
He sees New Deal-era social works programs, which provided direct employment through the government, as a much more effective means of creating a large-scale jobs program and truly putting America back to work.
“How is it going to help people earn stable incomes?” he says. ”So far, he has not yet put forward a plan that, in that Rooseveltian sense, meets the goal of getting living wage jobs to as many people as possible. This was one of his big promises, spend big on infrastructure and drive unemployment down.”
Cotacachi, in the Imbabura province, is getting the lion’s share of expat attention these days. Many, especially those of retirement age, are finding their way here to enjoy the perfect weather, beautiful scenery, low cost of living, and especially the tranquil, slow-paced small-town lifestyle.
Like Otavalo and many other villages in this part of Ecuador, Cotacachi (population: about 8,000) is an artisan town. Just 20 minutes northwest of Otavalo, Cotacachi is Ecuador’s famous “leather” town. Artisan shops line the main street and you can buy any type of leather item, from shoes, boots and jackets to coin purses, bags, and suitcases…even upholstered furniture. Prices for all these items are 50% to 75% less than you would pay in the U.S.
Cotacachi has always enjoyed a reputation as a clean, peaceful village, and its plazas are kept neat and tidy. At night the artisan shops close up and only a few restaurants and small mom-and-pop shops are open. On the corners, you may find families congregating around a hot grill, where ears of corn are roasting along with pork and chicken kabobs. The cool, crisp air smells faintly of wood smoke, roasting corn, and eucalyptus. Eucalyptus trees grow abundantly wild, as do palm trees.
Cotacachi has become one of Ecuador’s most active expat communities in recent years, as many foreigners have chosen to locate here—and they enjoy a great lifestyle in Cotacachi. It’s a small, mostly indigenous town with a strong sense of community.
Largely dependent on agriculture, it is the sort of town many of us remember from our childhoods. Fresh raw milk can be bought from local farms, along with eggs laid by free-range chickens. Children still help with the family businesses after school and are well-mannered.
In the quaint downtown, you’ll find a couple of barbers, a small health clinic, and a pavilion for the town band. Ethnic restaurants and cozy cafés make welcoming spots to catch up with friends or just sit and watch life unfold in the Ecuadorian highlands.
Though Cotacachi has a slow and relaxed pace there are constant events and activities to take part in. Every month at least one parade or festival takes place. There are live music events, dances, and even horse processions to be watched and photographed. Seed exchanges, food fairs, and leather expos are all annual events too.
Of course it’s always nice to explore other areas too and there are plenty of great day-trips to choose from. Within two hours you could be at Chachimbiro Hot Springs relaxing in the thermal springs, or enjoying a mud bath at the spa. Lake Cuicocha is just a 15-minute taxi ride from town where you can marvel at the deep blue volcanic crater lake. If you’re up for some physical activity you can take a four-hour hike around the rim, or if you prefer to relax, take the boat tour around the islands in the center of the lake.
The famed market town of Otavalo is nearby, where you can explore the streets filled with craft items, food, and even animals for sale. Ibarra is a larger city just 45 minutes away with shopping malls, dining options, and large parks and plazas to enjoy.
When the sun sets in Cotacachi, the artisan shops close up and only a few restaurants and small mom-and-pop shops are open. That’s all you need, really. After a day of sunshine in the 8,000-foot-elevation, mountain climate, night-time is for sleeping.
Retire in Cotacachi, Ecuador
Cotacachi is becoming something of an expat magnet. Estimates are that about 100 expats live full-time in Cotacachi now. It’s a diverse group—not all American. There are Israelis, Cubans, Brits, and more among them, who get together regularly to discuss topics of interest or just to celebrate life. This makes retirement in Cotacachi enjoyable. The expats here are outgoing and relaxed, since there’s not much to worry about. No traffic, no temperature swings, no pesky insects, and certainly no money problems.
The town is also scenic. Two of the most majestic cordilleras of the Andes flank either side of the small village of Cotacachi. And several of Ecuador’s most famous volcanoes can be seen from just about anywhere in town, including Volcan Cotacachi to the west and Imbabura to the east. On a clear day, you can see Volcan Pichincha to the south.
If you want to enjoy good weather, clean air, great scenery, and a rich indigenous culture, but still be within two hours of the international airport in Quito, then retirement in Cotacachi could fit the bill.
Lifestyle in Cotacachi, Ecuador
Cotacachi is a fabulous place to improve your health. The moderate climate with little variation throughout the year means that nearly every fruit and vegetable can be grown within a hundred miles. Not only is healthy produce readily available, but it’s also very affordable. With avocados priced at 3 for a dollar, organic leaf lettuce at 25 cents, and 6 plump carrots for 50 cents there is no monetary reason not to eat right.
In addition, the small size of the town makes it perfect for walking. Instead of jumping in your car to run to the grocery store, pay bills, or meet a friend for lunch you can easily accomplish it all with your own two feet. Many folks find that they lose weight without even trying after being in Cotacachi for only a few months. The healthy food choices and extra walking each day help shed excess pounds.
For a small town there are few things lacking. Residents can take advantage of spas, fitness centers, and basic medical needs all within a few blocks of each other. They can also participate in art classes, hiking groups, dance lessons, live musical events, yoga, foreign films, and science courses.
If you’re a social person, Cotacachi is the place for you. There are plenty of other expats to get to know, but the locals are friendly and welcoming too. It’s tough to spend much time in this town without quickly and easily making friends.
Real Estate in Cotacachi, Ecuador
This influx of foreigners has caused something of a building boom in Cotacachi in recent years, and if you come to look for real estate, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Older homes and apartments in need of renovation can be had for the price of a good used car.
Recognizing the trend of foreign baby boomers looking for an unspoiled and inexpensive retirement destination, local builders offer appealing homes and condos with features like large modern kitchens, elegant bathrooms, fireplaces, and more.
Rentals go for as little as $150 a month for a modern, three-bedroom apartment while furnished units with all utilities included go for $600.
Cost of Living in Cotacachi, Ecuador
The cost of living is low in Ecuador, but especially so in smaller towns like Cotacachi. If you’re living on a budget or just looking to save money, this is a great place to do so.
Sunday is market day, when the villagers bring their wares to sell. Everything from fruits and vegetables to ground spices, woven baskets, and rope made of woven plastic shopping bags—recycling at its best. And then there are the roses…you pay $2 for one dozen, long-stemmed roses that are so fresh they last nearly three weeks.
On Saturdays head to Otavalo—to the largest open-air indigenous market in South America. If you’re a good negotiator, you can buy scarves, woolen socks, and hats for $2 each, or pretty wool and alpaca sweaters for $8 ($4 for kids’ sizes). The 30-minute bus ride from Cotacachi to Otavalo costs 35 cents; a taxi costs $5.
You can hire a maid to clean your condo for $10, and gardeners or landscapers charge around $4 per hour. Furnishing that same condo can be fun and inexpensive as well. There are master carpenters right in town that will build furniture to your specs for 50% to 75% of U.S. costs. Artistic paintings, colorful weavings, and wooden carvings are all easily found in the area and are priced at or below half of what you would pay back home.
Unless you must have imported food items or expensive cuts of meat you’ll save on your grocery bill here. Five dollars at the farmers’ market will get you an extra-large grocery bag filled to the brim with good healthy produce. Bananas, pineapples, mangos, avocados, tomatoes, leafy greens, and dozens of varieties of potatoes are just a few things you’ll find for sale. Whole chickens range from $5 to $8 depending on the size while fresh free-range eggs cost around $1.30 per dozen.
Many restaurants in town serve a menu del dia that consists of a beverage, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. How much? $2.50 each. It’s almost cheaper to eat out than to cook at home.
There are several good doctors in Cotacachi who typically charge $10 for an office visit. An eye exam costs $5 while a dental cleaning and exam will run around $20.
With the lack of severe temperature fluxes you’ll find that heating and air conditioning aren’t necessary, saving you plenty of money. Average electric costs for a household run between $15 and $20 per month. Monthly bills for water and propane gas usually come in at around $5 each. A package of cable TV, internet, and landline phone service can be had for around $100 per month.
Many folks live without a vehicle which eliminates fuel, maintenance, and insurance expenses. Bus fare usually averages around $1 per hour of travel time, and taxis are cheap too, charging $5 to nearby Otavalo (20 minute drive) and $12 to Ibarra (40 minute drive).
Depending upon the lifestyle you want a couple can easily live on $1,200 to $1,800 per month here. Of course frequent dining at high-end restaurants and traveling will require more income, but can still be done for far less than what it would cost in many other parts of the world. Don’t forget to factor in extra funds for trips back home, initial moving and visa costs, and for routine medical care.
You can’t blame a homeowner in Fresno, California, for viewing the thriving metropolis to its northwest with both envy and dismay. While San Francisco home values have surged since the recession, Fresno’s housing market is stuck in a rut. Less than 3 percent of homes in the city and its environs have returned to their pre-recession peak, according to a new study from Trulia. Median home values are a teeth-clenching $78,000 below their pre-recession peak.
The difference between the two California markets helps explain a key dynamic of U.S. housing a decade after the foreclosure crisis. Popular measures of the landscape, like S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index and the FHFA House Price Index, show the market has recovered to levels last seen before the housing market went bust. But according to Trulia, this isn’t the whole, significantly bleaker picture.
Nationally, just 1 in 3 homes are worth more now than they were at their peak. While tech hubs in the Bay Area and Denver and job centers like Dallas or Nashville have seen home values explode past earlier highs, there are more losers than winners when you look across the country, Trulia’s analysis shows. And it’s really bad news if you live in Las Vegas, Tucson—or Fresno.
Many of the losers aren’t just losing—they’re getting trounced. There were 28 metros where fewer than 10 percent of homes have recovered their value since the bubble burst. Las Vegas has seen less than 1 percent of its homes returning to or surpassing what they were worth before the recession. The median sales price there is down a full $91,000 from its peak.
“It’s a reflection of just how well a metro area has recovered, broadly speaking,” said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia, adding that his findings largely correlate with other measures of metro-level growth, such as gains in income and total population.
As a result, it’s tempting to view these results through the prism of the 2016 election. Many of the metropolitan areas where home values lag the most are Rust Belt towns with little prospect for an immediate comeback, or Sunbelt cities whose peak home values were a product of the bubble that preceded the collapse.
McLaughlin says a zip code-level analysis offers a more nuanced view of the haves and have-nots. In much of the middle of the country, cities have stagnated while less populated regions lead the recovery. While it’s true coastal markets have experienced the lion’s share of appreciation, the majority of homes in pricey markets like New York, Los Angeles, Silver Spring, Maryland, and Fairfield County, Connecticut, are still worth less than a decade ago.
To be sure, Trulia’s research is based on its own estimates of home values, while the big indices are based on actual sales. Other research suggests a hot economy gives rural workers more choice, causing an outflow of potential employees to better jobs, often in the cities or on the coasts, potentially speeding a decline in home value elsewhere.
The 2015 American Community Survey data shows that New Jersey still leads the nation with the highest average annual real estate tax (RET) bill of $8,180—$7,528 more than RETs paid by Alabama’s homeowners. The overall distribution remained roughly unchanged since 2014, as the composition of the top and bottom ten remained the same. The map below clearly illustrates that the highest property tax states are found in the Northeast while—with the exception of Texas—southern states boast the lowest RET bills for their resident homeowners.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, NAHB calculations
As property values vary widely by state, controlling for this variable produces a more instructive state-by-state comparison. In keeping with prior analyses, NAHB calculates this—the effective property tax rate as measured by taxes paid per $1,000 of home value—by dividing aggregate real estate taxes paid by the aggregate value of owner-occupied housing units within a state. As shown below, New Jersey has the dubious distinction of imposing the highest effective property tax rate—2.13% or $21.25 per $1,000 of home value. Hawaii levies the lowest effective rate in the nation—0.28%, or $2.84 per $1,000 of value.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, NAHB calculations
Interstate differences among home values explain some, but not all, of the variance in real estate tax bills across the country. Texas is an illustrative example of a state in which home values hardly, if at all, explain real estate tax bills faced by homeowners. While Texas ranks only 32nd in the country for average home values, it is 12th in average real estate taxes paid. Other factors are clearly at play, and state and local government financing turns out to be a major one.
Property taxes account for 35% of state and local tax receipts, on average, but some state and local governments rely more heavily on property taxes as a source of revenue than others. Texas serves as an excellent example once again. Unlike most states, Texas does not impose a state income tax on its residents. Even though per capita government spending is tame compared with other states—7th lowest in the country—Texas and its localities must still find a way to fund government obligations. Local governments accomplish this by levying the 7th highest effective property tax rate (1.63%) in the country, on average. The state government partly makes up for foregone individual income tax revenue by imposing a tax on corporate revenue rather than income
According to NAHB estimates, the total count of the second home stock reached 7.5 million in 2014, an increase of 0.6 million over 2009 when NAHB Economics last produced these estimates. The share of second homes among the total housing stock also increased from 5.4% to 5.6%.
It is worthwhile to understand the patterns of second homes because they could have a significant economic impact on local housing markets and thus have important policy implications. This analysis focuses on the number and the location of second homes qualified for the home mortgage interest deduction using the Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey (ACS).
The county with the largest share of second homes is Hamilton County, NY with 79.3%, followed by Forest County (74%), PA, and Rich County (72.7%), UT. As one might expect, the top 10 counties with the largest share of second homes are mostly tourist destinations.
In-depth analysis, however, shows that the concentration of second homes is not simply restricted to conventional locations like beachfront areas. There were 913 counties spread over 49 states, where second homes accounted for at least 10% of the local housing stock. Only Connecticut and Washington D.C. were exceptions. 357 counties, 11% of all counties in the U.S., had at least 20% of housing units that were second homes.
27 counties in 14 states had over half of housing units qualified as second homes. Of these counties, five counties are in Michigan, four in Colorado and Wisconsin, two in California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Utah, and one county each in Idaho, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York. These national patterns are mapped below.
Of course, the geographic locations of second homes also correspond to population density. Counties with more than 25,000 second homes are mostly located in or near metropolitan areas. The table below lists the top 10 counties with the most second homes. States with at least one such county are Arizona, Florida, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, South Carolina, Delaware, Texas, Michigan, and Maryland.
NAHB estimates are based on the definition used for home mortgage interest deduction: a second home is a non-rental property that is not classified as taxpayer’s principal residence. Examples could be: (1) a home that used to be a primary residence due to a move or a period of simultaneous ownership of two homes due to a move; (2) a home under construction for which the eventual homeowner acts as the builder and obtains a construction loan (Treasury regulations permit up to 24 months of interest deductibility for such construction loans); or (3) a non-rental seasonal or vacation residence. However, homes under construction are not included in this analysis because the ACS does not collect data on units under construction.
Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped seven points to a level of 70 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest reading since July 2005.
The increase in market confidence follows the November election results, increasing hopes among home builders and other stakeholders in the residential construction industry that the incoming administration will reduce costly regulatory burdens, particularly for small businesses. Research from NAHB published earlier this year indicated that for home builders, such regulatory costs have risen by more than 29% over the last five years.
While the significant increase in builder confidence for December could be considered an outlier, the fact remains that the economic fundamentals continue to look good for housing as we head into 2017. And the rise in the HMI is consistent with recent gains for the stock market and consumer confidence. At the same time, builders remain sensitive to rising mortgage rates and continue to deal with shortages of lots and labor.
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.
All three HMI components posted healthy gains in December. The component gauging current sales conditions increased seven points to 76 while the index charting sales expectations in the next six months jumped nine points to 78. Meanwhile, the component measuring buyer traffic rose six points to 53, marking the first time this gauge has topped 50 since October 2005.