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Our Eye on the Housing Market


101 Housing Markets Listed as Improving in April The NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) continued to expand in April, albeit a bit more slowly than in past months, to encompass 101 individual metro areas across 34 states and the District of Columbia. The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in single-family housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. The 101 markets on the April IMI represent a net gain of two from March, with 13 metros being added and 11 markets slipping from the list while 88 markets retained their places on it.

Among the new entrants, areas as diverse as:
  • Rome, Ga.
  • Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
  • Greenville, N.C.
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • St. George, Utah
  • Huntington, W.Va.
are now represented on the IMI. Commenting on the latest reading, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe noted that, “After five consecutive months of gains, the IMI recently began to plateau, with many markets holding steady and a few experiencing the ups-and-downs that are typical in a choppy recovery.” He explained that the IMI is designed to highlight markets that are showing consistent improvement, and that those markets that have registered the smallest gains are more susceptible to dropping off the list due to a minor setback in prices, permits or employment. “At the same time, as stronger markets approach stability, it will get harder for them to keep charting improvement, which will also limit the expansion of the IMI going forward,” he said.
Data Sheds Light on Residential Construction Employment by Congressional District
A new study by NAHB Economics presents the most up-to-date estimates available for residential construction employment by state and congressional district and sheds light on certain trends in this area. According to NAHB estimates that are based on data from the government's American Community Survey (ACS), of the 8.7 million people who worked in the U.S. construction industry as of 2010, about 3.4 million of those were on the residential side, accounting for about 2.4% of the entire employed civilian labor force. NAHB also estimates that the average congressional district has about 7,700 residents working in residential construction, with the greatest number of residential construction workers -- almost 17,200 -- found in Montana's at-large congressional district that is represented by Congressman Dennis Rehberg (R). The second- and third-largest populations of employed residential construction workers as of 2010 were found in California's 44th district that includes the city of Riverside and is represented by Congressman Ken Calvert (R) and in Texas's 29th district that serves the eastern part of the Greater Houston area and is represented by Congressman Gene Green (D), each of which had more than 14,000 such workers. The top 10 list also includes three districts in Florida and one each in California, Idaho, Arizona and Colorado. The latest data also shed light on a growing trend in which the national rate of self-employment in the construction industry increased from 25% in 2005 to 26.2% in 2010, with several of the hardest-hit states in the housing downturn registering significantly larger increases. Specifically, the ACS data show that the share of self-employed construction workers rose from 16% to 21% in Arizona and from under 24% to 29% in Florida during that time. Similarly, the share of self-employed builders increased by about 4% in Nevada and California over the same period. NAHB economists theorize that this is partly because, during the downturn, builders and remodelers who were no longer able to maintain a steady work flow may have tried to manage costs by eliminating payroll positions and joining the ranks of the self-employed.

NAHB Economists Examine Maintenance Costs for New vs. Older Homes Just in time for New Homes Month, NAHB's economists have recently conducted an analysis of data from the 2009 American Housing Survey that just might help push that prospective buyer of yours off the fence and into a new home. Specifically, the data effectively quantifies the savings that a newly built home (defined as one built within the last four years) can generate for the buyer in terms of monthly energy and maintenance costs. For example, for routine maintenance, 26% of all home owners spent $100 or more per month on various upkeep costs as of 2009. However, only 11%  of owners of newly constructed homes spent this amount. Meanwhile, 73% of new home owners spent less than $25 a month on routine maintenance costs. Also, on a median per square foot basis, the average home owner spent 78 cents per square foot per year on electricity, while owners of new homes spent 65 cents per square foot per year. And for homes with piped gas, owners spent an average of 53 cents per square foot per year, versus owners of new homes who spent 38 cents per square foot per year. These data highlight how much cheaper it can be to own and operate a newly built home versus an older one, and also further the argument for reforming the current appraisals system to accurately reflect the flow of benefits stemming from the features of a newly built home.
What to Expect When Pent-Up Housing Demand Is Unleashed
A new entry in NAHB's Eye on Housing blog this week looks at what builders should expect to see happening in the marketplace once the estimated  2.1 million household formations that have been delayed by the recession actually materialize. While this process, aided by an improving job market, should help reduce the excess inventory of homes on the market, our economists point out that many of the newly forming households will initially become renters. In fact, looking at data from the government's American Housing Survey to estimate what form the unlocked pent-up demand will take, they project that approximately 70% of these new households are likely to become renters, and that in the short-run, this could cause the national homeownership rate to fall. However, this effect will likely be temporary as rental vacancy rates continue to fall, new renting households increase rental demand, rents are pushed up and more existing renters decide to become home owners. Choose From More Than 400 House Designs and House Plans We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and Colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classics house designs are gentrified New England-style cottages that range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer. Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

Today's photo featured Archival Designs' home plan is Ramboulette.

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  • Joanne Loftus
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