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RE/MAX Masters Home Builder Services

Co-owners of RE/MAX Masters - Steve Jacobs and Charles Jeter - bring a combined history of almost 40 years and over 1,500 transactions in new construction experience. As a part of sales teams and senior leadership of Nashville area home builders including the current top three builders the RE/MAX Masters New Home Sales Professionals bring the best practices from these industry leading builders to your operations.

Our “insider” understanding of pricing strategies used by the builder community will empower you to capture the maximum profit margin potential and leave as little money on the table as possible. Our team is trained in a structured sales process, in-depth product knowledge, regular competition reviews, quarterly market analysis, and weekly traffic reports to deliver the data to track your business and sales to grow your business.

In 2014-2015 our team has delivered over $100 Million in closings for our builders with individual companies experiencing 100% growth.

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What are the BENEFITS to RE/MAX Masters Home Builder Services?

  • RE/MAX Masters brings the same structured approach to market analysis, promotion, and sales direction as the national builders to the independent builders .
  • RE/MAX Masters provides the benefit of a Director of Sales, Director of Marketing, Design/Selection Center, and support staff without to the cost to overhead.
  • RE/MAX Masters’ Lead team’s experience working with Nashville’s top three homebuilders you will have the benefit of inside knowledge of your competitors positioning and pricing strategies
  • RE/MAX Masters has access to additional lot/land opportunities not currently on the open market that are reserved for our Home builder clients
  • RE/MAX Masters is the ONLY area brokerage to feature a Design/Selection Center that will assist Home Builder customers choosing features in their new construction home and listing clients in making selections for remodeling homes to put on the market.

News and Publications Feed


Apartment and Condominium Market Bounces Back to Positive Territory in Second Quarter

Confidence in the market for new multifamily housing improved in the second quarter of 2019, according to results from the Multifamily Market Survey (MMS) released today by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The MMS produces two separate indices. The Multifamily Production Index (MPI) increased 16 points to 56 compared to the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI) fell eight points to 40, with lower numbers indicating fewer vacancies.

The MPI measures builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condo market on a scale of 0 to 100. The index and all of its components are scaled so that a number below 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are getting worse than report conditions are improving.

The MPI is a weighted average of three key elements of the multifamily housing market: construction of low-rent units—apartments that are supported by low-income tax credits or other government subsidy programs; market-rate rental units—apartments that are built to be rented at the price the market will hold; and for-sale units—condominiums. All three components posted gains in the second quarter: The component measuring low-rent units increased nine points to 56, the component measuring market rate rental jumped 22 points to 64 and the component measuring for-sale units rose 19 points to 50.

The MVI measures the multifamily housing industry’s perception of vacancies in existing apartments. It is a weighted average of current occupancy indexes for class A, B, and C multifamily units, and can vary from 0 to 100, where a number under 50 indicates more property managers believe vacancies are decreasing than increasing. With a reading of 40, this is the lowest reading since the second quarter of 2017.

“Overall, builders and developers are reporting increased confidence in the multifamily housing market,” said Gary Campbell, CEO of Gilbert G. Campbell Real Estate in Lowell, Mass., and chairman of NAHB’s Multifamily Council. “However, they still have to deal with the high cost of land, labor and regulation, which could impact future production.”

“Historically, the MPI and MVI tend to move one to three months ahead of U.S. Census figures for multifamily starts and vacancy rates, but in the second quarter we saw positive gains in both the NAHB and Census measures at the same time,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “This is a sign of solid demand for multifamily housing in the second quarter, which was supported by low unemployment and a healthy number of household formations.”

For data tables on the MPI and MVI, visit www.nahb.org/mms.

For more information on the NAHB Multifamily program, please visit NAHB Multifamily: https://www.nahb.org/en/members/committees-and-councils/councils/multifamily-council/nahb-multifamily.aspx.

Single-Family Starts Continue Modest Improvement in July

Due to a decline in multifamily production, total housing starts fell 4 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.19 million units from a downwardly revised reading in June, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department.

The July reading of 1.19 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts increased 1.3 percent to 876,000 units. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, fell 16.2 percent to a 315,000 pace.

“Despite housing affordability headwinds, builders remain confident about the market and this is reflected in recent modest gains in single-family starts,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“Permits bottomed out in April and single-family starts hit their low point in May, and now we are starting to see the gradual improvement in the market that we’ve been forecasting,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

On a regional and year-to-date basis, combined single-family and multifamily starts in July rose 3.7 percent in the South. Starts declined 5.7 percent in Northeast, 7.9 percent in the Midwest and 12.3 percent in the West.

Overall permits, which are a harbinger of future housing production, increased 8.4 percent to a 1.34 million unit annualized rate in July. Single-family permits edged 1.8 percent higher to a 838,000 rate while multifamily permits jumped 21.8 percent to a 498,000 pace.

Looking at regional permit data on a year-to-date basis, permits rose 2.4 percent in the Northeast. Permits fell 7.1 percent in the Midwest, 0.1 percent in the South and 6.8 percent in the West.

Builder Confidence Trending Higher as Interest Rates Move Lower

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose one point to 66 in August, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. Sentiment levels have held at a solid 64-to-66 level for the past four months.

“Even as builders report a firm demand for single-family homes, they continue to struggle with rising construction costs stemming from excessive regulations, a chronic shortage of workers and a lack of buildable lots,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. 

“While 30-year mortgage rates have dropped from 4.1 percent down to 3.6 percent during the past four months, we have not seen an equivalent higher pace of building activity because the rate declines occurred due to economic uncertainty stemming largely from growing trade concerns,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Although affordability headwinds remain a challenge, demand is good and growing at lower price points and for smaller homes.”

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.

The HMI index gauging current sales conditions increased two points to 73 and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers rose two points to 50. The measure charting sales expectations in the next six months fell one point to 70.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South moved one point higher to 69, the West was also up one point to 73 and the Midwest inched up a single point to 57. The Northeast fell three points to 57.

Editor's Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

Statement from NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde on Final ESA Regulations

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., issued the following statement after the administration released its final regulations to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA):

“The final reforms to the ESA’s Section 7 Consultation requirements and regulations governing the designation of critical habitat are a positive development for landowners whose projects may impact endangered species or their designated critical habitat. These regulatory changes will streamline the cumbersome and bureaucratic permitting process and allow federal regulators to spend more time on species preservation rather than creating red tape.”

55+ Housing Market Remains Solid in Second Quarter

Builder confidence in the single-family 55+ housing market remained solid in the second quarter with a reading of 71, edging down one point from the previous quarter due to softness in traffic of prospective buyers, according to the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) 55+ Housing Market Index (HMI) released today.

The 55+ HMI measures two segments of the 55+ housing market: single-family homes and multifamily condominiums. Each segment of the 55+ HMI measures builder sentiment based on a survey that asks if current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market are good, fair or poor (high, average or low for traffic).

“Although the single-family HMI fell slightly, builder sentiment still remains strong for this segment of the market,” said Karen Schroeder, chair of NAHB's 55+ Housing Industry Council and vice president of Mayberry Homes in East Lansing, Mich. “In fact, the reading of 71 is just one point off from the all-time high of 72 from the previous quarter. We expect the 55+ housing market to continue on a positive path moving forward.”

For the three index components of the 55+ single-family HMI, present sales remained even at 76, expected sales for the next six months increased one point to 78 and traffic of prospective buyers fell five points to 56.

The 55+ multifamily condo HMI rose two points to 59. Two of three index components posted increases from the previous quarter: Present sales and expected sales for the next six months increased three points to 61 and 65, respectively, while traffic of prospective buyers dropped two points to 50.

All four components of the 55+ multifamily rental market went up from the first quarter: Present production and future expected production both increased six points to 64, while present demand jumped 12 points to 73 and future expected demand rose 10 points to 73.

“Demand for 55+ housing remains solid, as demonstrated in the surge for 55+ rental demand,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Builder sentiment for the for-sale 55+ housing market also remains in positive territory, supported by low inventory of existing homes. However, it is being constrained by development costs and their impact on affordability.”

For the full 55+ HMI tables, please visit nahb.org/55hmi.

2020 International Builders’ Show Registration Now Open

Special Registration Discounts Offered Through August

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) officially opened online registration today for the 2020 NAHB International Builders’ Show® (IBS), the largest annual light construction trade show in the world.

IBS will return to the Las Vegas Convention Center, Jan. 21 – 23, where it will again co-locate with the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s (NKBA) Kitchen & Bath Industry Show® (KBIS) for the 7th annual Design & Construction Week® (DCW). The two shows are expected to host more than 2,000 exhibiting brands spanning over a million net square feet of exhibit space, for the largest annual gathering of the residential design and construction industry.

“It’s our goal for the NAHB International Builders’ Show to be the event of the year for our members and industry professionals,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Nowhere else will you find top-level education sessions, a variety of networking opportunities, special events and an exhibit hall full of innovative products all in one place. This is truly an event you can’t miss.”

Attendees with a full conference registration will have access to more than 130 education sessions led by renowned experts on a wide range of industry topics. New this year, Master Workshops, previously known as Master Sessions, will be held on Monday, Jan. 20, the day before the show officially kicks off as part of pre-show education and will be open to all registered show attendees for an additional fee.

IBS will again feature six Centrals that offer specific areas of focus within the building industry with their own schedule of events. A variety of activities are available inside the Centrals including workshops, networking events, roundtable discussions and guided product tours of the exhibit hall. The High-Performance Building Zone will feature real-world construction demonstrations, and IBS Live will host presentations focused on what’s next in home building. Additionally, the IBS show floor will feature the CEDIA Pavilion, a space showcasing exhibitors who specialize in technology solutions for the home.

The 2020 show will kick off on the morning of Jan. 21 with an Opening Ceremonies event featuring basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson. That evening, OMNIA Nightclub at Caesars Palace will host the Official IBS House Party. Other events throughout the week include the Young Pro Party Wednesday night at On The Record at Park MGM, followed by the IBS Closing Concert Thursday night with a performance by award-winning rock band, the Doobie Brothers.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to tour NAHB’s official IBS show homes, The New American Home® (TNAH) and The New American Remodel® (TNAR). The homes are designed to showcase innovative building technologies, emerging design trends and the latest building products. The showcase products in the homes are provided by members of the NAHB Leading Suppliers Council, and Professional Builder and Professional Remodeler magazines will once again serve as the media sponsors of the 2020 show homes.

During August, IBS registrants can take advantage of several registration discounts. NAHB members can receive a free expo pass or a $100 discount off full registration if they register this month. For a full list of offerings, visit: www.BuildersShow.com/fees.

The NAHB International Builders’ Show is not open to the general public. Building industry professionals and their affiliates are invited to register by visiting the show’s website at www.BuildersShow.com.

[Editor’s Note: Complimentary registration is available to credentialed members of the working press. Visit www.designandconstructionweek.com/press for more information or to register.]

NAHB Commends White House Commitment to Workforce Development

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., issued the following statement marking the one-year anniversary of the White House executive order on workforce development:

“NAHB applauds President Trump for his tireless commitment to expand job-training and apprenticeship opportunities for students and mid-career workers alike so that they will develop the skills and tools needed to secure well-paying jobs and succeed in the American workforce.

“As a representative of an industry that is vital to the U.S. economy, it is my honor to attend this White House event marking the first anniversary of the president’s executive order that established the National Council for the American Worker.

“With the housing sector grappling with severe labor shortages, NAHB is pleased to do its part to help in this vital initiative by pledging to train 50,000 new workers over a five-year period for a career in the residential construction trades. Our commitment to workforce training starts with the Home Builders Institute, a member of the NAHB federation, and a national leader in workforce training for the construction industry.

“NAHB shares the president’s dedication to training a workforce that meets our needs at home and makes America more competitive abroad and we are proud to participate in this worthy endeavor.”

New Home Sales Rebound in June but Affordability Concerns Persist

Sales of newly built, single-family homes increased 7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 646,000 units in June from a downwardly revised reading in May, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. On a year-to-date basis, new home sales for 2019 are 2.2 percent higher than the same period in 2018.

"Though there is a clear demand for new homes, builders continue to wrestle with affordability headwinds, including shortages of buildable lots and skilled labor, that are constraining sales,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“The June figures are in line with our forecast predicting a modest 3.5 percent growth in new home sales for 2019, due largely to affordability concerns,” said Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, AVP for Forecasting and Analysis at NAHB.

A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed. In addition to adjusting for seasonal effects, the June reading of 646,000 units is the number of homes that would sell if this pace continued for the next 12 months.

The inventory of new homes for sale was 338,000 in June, representing a 6.3 months’ supply. The median sales price was $310,400, nearly identical to the $310,500 median price from a year earlier.

Regionally, and on a year-over-year basis, new home sales are 19.4 percent higher in the West and 9.5 higher in the South. Sales are down 50 percent in the Northeast and 17.6 percent in the Midwest.

Remodelers’ Confidence Holds Steady in Second Quarter

The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI) posted a reading of 55 in the second quarter of 2019, rising one point from the previous quarter. The RMI has been consistently above 50—indicating that more remodelers report market activity is higher compared to the prior quarter than report it is lower—since the second quarter of 2013. The overall RMI averages current remodeling activity and future indicators.

“The demand for remodeling continues to hold strong throughout the country,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Tim Ellis, CAPS, CGP, CGR, GMR, Master CGP, a remodeler from Bel Air, Md. “However, the lack of skilled labor continues to be one of the largest roadblocks in the industry.”

Current market conditions rose two points from the previous quarter to 55. Among its three major components, major additions and alterations increased four points to 53, minor additions and alterations and the home maintenance and repair component both held steady at 55 and 56, respectively.

The future market indicators gained one point from the previous quarter to 55. Calls for bids stayed at 54, amount of work committed for the next three months fell two points to 52, the backlog of remodeling jobs increased four points to 58 and appointments for proposals remained steady at 55 for the third quarter in a row.

“The remodeling market has decelerated somewhat due to ongoing supply-side challenges, as well as year-over-year declines in existing home sales,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, remodelers’ confidence continues to be positive. Market conditions would be better if not for labor shortages and rising construction costs making it difficult to complete some projects at prices home owners can afford.”

For the full RMI tables, please visit www.nahb.org/rmi. For more information about remodeling, visit www.nahb.org/remodel.

Statement from NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde on Shaheen-Portman Energy Bill

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., issued the following statement on energy legislation introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio):

“NAHB supports efforts to promote energy efficiency but believes the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act introduced by Sens. Shaheen and Portman takes the wrong approach. Specifically, the legislation would harm housing affordability by imposing overly costly and aggressive energy efficiency requirements in model building energy codes. Moreover, the bill would discourage states from adopting codes that meet their specific needs. As written, NAHB would be opposed to this bill.

“Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Bill Flores (R-Texas) offers a more cost-effective way to encourage energy efficiency. The Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act would accelerate cost-savings for home owners by requiring that any code or proposal supported by the Department of Energy has a payback of 10 years or less.

“NAHB looks forward to working with Congress to advance cost-effective ways for the federal government to incentivize home owners to upgrade their homes to be more energy efficient.”

Single-Family Starts Increase in June

Single-family gains helped offset a drop in multifamily production as total housing starts edged 0.9 percent lower in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.25 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department.

The June reading of 1.25 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts increased 3.5 percent to 847,000 units. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, fell 9.2 percent to a 406,000 pace.

“The monthly pick up from May to June in single-family starts is in line with the slight rise in our latest builder confidence survey, as demand remains solid due to a healthy job market,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“The relatively flat housing starts data in June is due to a decline in multifamily production, which still remains somewhat elevated due to affordability concerns in the for-sale market,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “The Census data show that the only region showing single-family construction gains for the first half of 2019 is the South, where housing is generally more affordable relative to incomes.”

Regionally, combined single-family and multifamily starts in June rose 31.3 percent in the Northeast, and 27.1 percent in the Midwest. Starts declined 9.2 percent in the South and 4.9 percent in the West.

Overall permits, which are a harbinger of future housing production, fell 6.1 percent to a 1.22 million unit annualized rate in June. Single-family permits edged 0.4 percent higher to 813,000 while multifamily permits fell 16.8 percent to 407,000.

Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 21.9 percent in the Northeast. Permits fell 10.4 percent in the South, 7.9 percent in the West and 0.6 percent in the Midwest.

Builder Confidence Holds Firm in July

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose one point to 65 in July, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. This marks the sixth consecutive month that sentiment levels have held at a steady range in the low- to mid-60s.

“Builders report solid demand for single-family homes. However, they continue to grapple with labor shortages, a dearth of buildable lots and rising construction costs that are making it increasingly challenging to build homes at affordable price points relative to buyer incomes,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“Even as builders try to rein in costs, home prices continue to outpace incomes,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “The current low mortgage interest rate environment should be getting more buyers off the sidelines, but they remain hesitant due to affordability concerns. Still, attractive rates should help spur new home purchases in large metro suburban markets, where approximately one-third of new construction takes place.”

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 the HMI indices inched higher in July. The index measuring current sales conditions rose one point to 72, the component gauging expectations in the next six months moved a single point higher to 71 and the metric charting buyer traffic increased one point to 48. Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South moved one point higher to 68 and the West was also up one point to 72. The Northeast remained unchanged at 60 while the Midwest fell a single point to 56.

Editor's Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

Statement from NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde on President Trump’s Housing Affordability Executive Order

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., attended today’s signing ceremony at the White House and issued the following statement after President Trump signed his executive order on housing affordability:

“NAHB applauds President Trump for making housing a top national priority. With housing affordability near a 10-year low, the president’s executive order on this critical issue underscores that the White House is ready to take a leading role to help resolve the nation’s affordability crisis.

“Given that homeownership historically has been part of the American dream and a primary source of wealth for most American households, the need to tackle ongoing affordability concerns is especially urgent. As we celebrate National Homeownership Month, we must ensure that homeownership remains in reach for younger and future generations. This can be achieved by providing access to affordable rental housing and growing the inventory of for-sale housing, particularly at the entry-level.

“NAHB analysis has found that regulations account for nearly 25 percent of the price of building a single-family home and more than 30 percent of the cost of a typical multifamily development. We are pleased that the president’s executive order calls for the formation of a White House Council chaired by HUD Secretary Ben Carson that will seek to reduce regulatory barriers that are making housing more costly.

“NAHB will continue to work with the White House and Secretary Carson to find innovative solutions to increase the production of sorely needed quality, affordable housing.”

New Home Sales Decline in May

Sales of newly built, single-family homes fell 7.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 626,000 units in May, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. On a year-to-date basis however, new home sales for 2019 are 4 percent higher than the same period in 2018.

"The report shows growth in sales in the $200,000-300,000 price range, which indicates middle-class demand for housing is being supported by low rates and solid employment,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“The May numbers are a bit surprising given lower mortgage interest rates and solid builder confidence data,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Based on these conditions, we expect June new home sales figures will show a rebound.”

A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed. In addition to adjusting for seasonal effects, the May reading of 626,000 units is the number of homes that would sell if this pace continued for the next 12 months.

The inventory of new homes for sale was 333,000 in May, representing a 6.4 months’ supply. The median sales price was $308,200. The median price of a new home sale a year earlier was $316,700.

Regionally, and on a year to date basis, new home sales are 7.5 percent higher in the South and 3.4 percent higher in the West. Sales are down 13.3 percent in the Northeast and 3.2 percent in the Midwest.

Housing Starts Relatively Flat Off of Strength in Multifamily Sector

Total housing starts declined 0.9 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.27 million units from an upwardly revised reading in April, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department.

The May reading of 1.27 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts fell 6.4 percent to 820,000 units. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 10.9 percent to a 449,000 pace.

"The rise in single-family permits echoes the stabilization we are seeing in our builder confidence survey," said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. "While the increase in permits is a positive sign for the housing market, there are still affordability concerns throughout the country, especially in high-cost areas."

"The decline in single-family starts is off a solid upward revision in April," said Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, NAHB assistant vice president of forecasting and analysis. "This is another indicator that ongoing builder supply-side concerns are making it more difficult to build homes at affordable price points. We expect single-family housing starts to remain flat through 2019."

Regionally, combined single-family and multifamily starts in May rose 11.2 percent in the South. Starts declined 45.5 percent in the Northeast, 8.0 percent in the Midwest and 2.4 percent in the West.

Overall permits, which are a harbinger of future housing production, edged up 0.3 percent to a 1.3 million unit annualized rate in May. Single-family permits increased 3.7 percent to 815,000, the first increase since November 2018. Multifamily permits fell 5.0 percent to 479,000.

Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 6.8 percent in the South and 1.8 percent in the West. Permits fell 24.6 percent in the Northeast and 8.4 percent in the Midwest.

Builder Confidence Solid in June Amidst Growing Economic Uncertainty

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes fell two points to 64 in June, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. Sentiment levels have held at a solid range in the low- to mid-60s for the past five months.

“While demand for single-family homes remains sound, builders continue to report rising development and construction costs, with some additional concerns over trade issues,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“Despite lower mortgage rates, home prices remain somewhat high relative to incomes, which is particularly challenging for entry-level buyers,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “And while new home sales picked up in March and April, builders continue to grapple with excessive regulations, a shortage of lots and lack of skilled labor that are hurting affordability and depressing supply.”

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 the HMI indices inched lower in June. The index measuring current sales conditions fell one point to 71, the component gauging expectations in the next six months moved two points lower to 70 and the metric charting buyer traffic dropped one point to 48.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast posted a three-point gain to 60 and the Midwest was also up three points to 57. The West held steady at 71 and the South fell a single point to 67.

Editor's Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

Statement from NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde on Expanded Use of Health Reimbursement Arrangements

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., issued the following statement after attending today's White House event announcing a final rule on health reimbursement arrangements:

"NAHB commends President Trump for taking steps to reduce health care costs for businesses and workers alike by promoting the increased use of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). With health care costs soaring, HRAs are important tools that allow home builders and other small businesses to help their workers defray the high cost of insurance premiums and other out-of-pocket medical expenses. Expanding the availability and permitted use of HRAs through issuance of this final regulation will help bring choice and affordability to the health care marketplace."

NAHB Unveils Resources for Home Builders to Address Opioid Crisis

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) rolled new resources, “Opioids in the Home Building Industry: Making it Your Business,” to help residential construction companies address the opioid crisis facing the home building industry.

People who work in construction are significantly more likely to become addicted to opioids, like prescription painkillers, than other workers in the general population and are six times more likely to die as a result of overdose. In addition to the health and well-being of the employee, the impact on a business can be significant and includes loss of productivity, healthcare expenses, absenteeism, turnover and much more.

“Opioid addiction is our nation’s leading public health crisis, and it affects people across all socioeconomic classes, races, genders and jobs, and the home building industry is no exception,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “NAHB is pleased to provide resources and possible solutions to this issue affecting so many lives.”

The resources provided by NAHB are the culmination of a year-long effort between NAHB senior leaders, local home builder association leaders, members, staff and Advocates for Human Potential Inc., who helped develop the materials. The initiative was funded through a generous grant from the Job-Site Safety Institute (JSI).

“JSI is committed to advancing research and education to help stem the tide of the opioid epidemic’s reach into the home building industry,” said JSI Executive Director Gary Hill.

NAHB is taking an innovative approach to address opioid use and misuse, viewing the problem holistically and creating solutions and educational resources that address intervention points across the spectrum of prevention, treatment, recovery and return-to-work.

The materials are available to NAHB members and non-members alike to help increase the reach of these valuable resources. The resources include:

  • An executive training package, including a webinar and related downloadable materials, that explains why action is needed in the home building industry
  • A supervisor training package on interventions in the workplace that includes a podcast and comprehensive written guidance
  • A supervisor training package on preventing opioid misuse in home building
  • Resources on pain management alternatives to opioids
  • Fact sheets that explain the risks associated with taking opioids, identifying nonmedical opioids like heroin, and identifying medical opioids
  • A comprehensive state-by-state guide of resources available locally

NAHB plans to continue this initiative and update and add to these resources as they are finalized. These tools will complement similar efforts by federal, state and local governments and healthcare organizations, which can also be found on the NAHB website.

The resources are available at nahb.org/opioids.

Nearly 700 Builders Shine a Spotlight on Housing Affordability in Hill Visits

Nearly 700 builders from across the nation converged on Capitol Hill today for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) 2019 Legislative Conference to urge their lawmakers to support policies that will increase the production of quality, affordable housing and keep the housing recovery moving forward.

“With housing affordability near a 10-year low, we are sending a loud and clear message to members of Congress that there is an urgent need to implement innovative solutions to ease the nation’s affordability woes and enable more families to achieve homeownership or have access to suitable rental housing,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

In nearly 300 individual meetings with their representatives and senators, builders discussed the following key housing issues:

  • Workforce and immigration. A chronic labor shortage in the housing industry is resulting in higher construction costs, increased home prices and lower economic growth. NAHB urged lawmakers to create a new, market-based guest worker program for the construction sector that will complement ongoing vocational training efforts and help fill labor gaps. Lawmakers were also encouraged to increase funding for job training programs to prepare individuals for careers in home building.
  • Trade policy. Builders asked their lawmakers to call on the administration to end tariffs on imports of softwood lumber, steel, aluminum and a wide variety of other goods used by the home building industry that are needlessly raising housing costs. NAHB also called on Congress to ensure swift ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which holds the potential to lift the housing economy.
  • Housing finance reform. Uncertainty about the housing finance system stymies investment and slows the housing market. NAHB called on Congress to pass bipartisan housing finance legislation that would reform the current system and provide certainty to the marketplace, while maintaining an appropriate level of government support for housing in all economic and financial conditions.
  • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. To help spur the production of badly needed affordable rental housing, NAHB urged lawmakers to pass the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. Introduced in the House and Senate earlier this week, the bipartisan legislation would improve the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit by establishing a permanent minimum 4 percent credit floor for acquisition and bond-financed projects. This would provide more flexibility in financing projects and significantly increase unit production.
  • National Flood Insurance Program. To continue the stability and growth of the housing market, it is essential that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) remains available, affordable and financially stable. NAHB called on lawmakers to pass a long-term NFIP reauthorization.
  • Building energy codes. NAHB urged Congress to require any code or proposal supported by the Department of Energy to have a payback period of 10 years or less.
  • Cluster mailboxes. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has instituted a de facto mandate requiring mail delivery to cluster mailbox units in new residential developments. NAHB believes any reform effort for the USPS should not be funded by home builders and home owners. NAHB urged House lawmakers to co-sponsor a sense of the House resolution (H. Res. 23) that calls on the USPS to preserve delivery of mail to the home or business.
Builders Call on Congress to Address Housing Affordability Challenges

As the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) celebrates National Homeownership Month in June, builders are urging Congress to address America’s housing affordability challenges.

“Removing regulatory barriers that contribute to the increased costs of housing will pave the way to homeownership,” said National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Greg Ugalde, a builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Home builders and the residential construction community are committed to working with Congress to ensure homeownership is within reach of hard working families.”

Rising costs from excessive regulation, a shortage of construction workers, tariffs on $10 billion worth of building materials, and housing finance concerns have detrimental effects on housing affordability. NAHB analysis shows that regulatory requirements alone account for 25 percent of the price of a single-family home, and 30 percent of the cost of a multifamily development.

Even with lower mortgage interest rates, housing affordability is relatively the same as it was a year ago. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index found only 61% of new and existing homes were affordable to a typical household. The current homeownership rate (64.2 percent) remains below the 25-year average rate (66.3 percent), according to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS).

More than half (53 percent) of buyers actively searching for a home in the first quarter of 2019 have been looking for three months or longer, according to NAHB’s Housing Trends Report (HTR). Home buyers say high home prices are the principal barrier to homeownership. A majority (78 percent) of buyers estimated they could afford fewer than half of the homes for-sale in their markets.

Despite the challenges of housing affordability, younger generations are more optimistic about finding a home. In the first quarter of 2019, prospective Millennial buyers are the likeliest cohort to expect house hunting to become easier in the months ahead (23 percent), followed by Gen X’ers (22 percent), Seniors (20 percent) and Boomers (18 percent), according to the HTR. About 20 percent of Millennials have plans to purchase a home in the next year, compared to only 15 percent of Gen X’ers, seven percent of Boomers, and three percent of Seniors.

Statement from NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde on Association Receiving HUD Grant

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., issued the following statement after NAHB received a $110,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to fight housing discrimination:

“NAHB is pleased to be working with HUD to fight accessibility discrimination against persons with disabilities under the federal Fair Housing Act. The $110,000 grant awarded to our association will be used to educate developers and multifamily building owners and managers on the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements. Specifically, we will develop educational tools to help reduce the number of non-compliant structures and enhance accessibility for those in need.”

New Home Building Geography Index Shows Single-Family Growth Limited to Exurbs

In a sign that housing affordability is becoming a growing issue nationwide, as of the first quarter of 2019 exurbs were the only region that registered single-family permit growth on a year-over-year basis, according to the new 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 regions.

“The HBGI is another indicator finding that housing affordability is a root cause of soft single-family permit issuance nationwide,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “A shortage of buildable and affordable lots is forcing builders to increasingly look further outside of suburban and metropolitan areas to find cheaper land that provides more building opportunities.”

Exurbs, which the HBGI defines as outlying counties of large metro areas with at least 1 million residents, were the only region to show net single-family permit growth when comparing the first quarter of 2019 data relative to the starting quarter of 2018, with a 1.6 percent gain. But exurbs only consist of 9 percent of single-family construction nationally.

Relatively sparsely populated areas that include exurbs, small towns, rural communities and outer suburbs of small metropolitan markets have shown the largest annual single-family growth over the past four quarters while other areas have shown either no change or declines.

“The HBGI data is consistent with the fact that housing costs are increasing fastest in large metro suburban counties and smaller metro areas with populations under 1 million where demand for housing is high but supply constraints are tight,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Supply-side issues that are hurting affordability and raising costs for builders include excessive regulations, labor shortages, rising material costs and a dearth of buildable lots in mid- to high population centers.”

The market share of apartment construction mirrored the single-family sector. Over the last year, multifamily permits declined in the areas where apartment construction is most concentrated – small and large metropolitan areas. At the same time, multifamily growth occurred in exurbs and other outlying areas. However, these markets represent just more than 10 percent of multifamily permit issuance.

The next HBGI will be released on August 27 and is tentatively scheduled to include data on housing construction activity in manufacturing areas across the nation.

Please visit nahb.org/hbgi for tables, historic data and details.

New Home Sales Post Solid Rate of 673,000 in April

Sales of newly built, single-family homes fell 6.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 673,000 units in April after a sharp upwardly revised March report, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. The March sales pace of 723,000 units was the highest monthly rate since the Great Recession, and the April figure was the third-highest pace.

"After a challenging final quarter of 2018, data for the start of the year shows stabilization and modest growth for home sales,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Our builder surveys show that traffic is steadily increasing. The challenge facing builders is how to deal with ongoing supply-side constraints such as a lack of buildable lots and labor that are putting upward pressure on housing costs.”

“The strong March sales pace was due to a combination of lower interest rates and the use of builder price incentives,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “At the same time, the April sales report was a solid number coming off a very strong March reading.”

A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed. In addition to adjusting for seasonal effects, the April reading of 673,000 units is the number of homes that would sell if this pace continued for the next 12 months.

The inventory of new homes for sale was 332,000 in April, representing a 5.9 months’ supply. The median sales price was $342,200. The median price of a new home sale a year earlier was $314,400.

Regionally, and on a year to date basis, new home sales rose 1.3 percent in the Midwest, 6.7 percent in the West and 10.3 percent in the South. Sales fell 17.6 percent in the Northeast.

Confidence in Apartment and Condo Housing Sectors Weakens in First Quarter of 2019

Confidence in the market for new multifamily housing weakened in the first quarter of 2019, according to results from the Multifamily Market Survey (MMS) released today by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The MMS produces two separate indices. The Multifamily Production Index (MPI) dropped seven points to 40 compared to the previous quarter, which is the lowest reading since the third quarter of 2010. Meanwhile, the Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI) rose three points to 48, with higher numbers indicating more vacancies.

The MPI measures builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condo market on a scale of 0 to 100. The index and all of its components are scaled so that a number below 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are getting worse than report conditions are improving.

The MPI is a weighted average of three key elements of the multifamily housing market: construction of low-rent units—apartments that are supported by low-income tax credits or other government subsidy programs; market-rate rental units—apartments that are built to be rented at the price the market will hold; and for-sale units—condominiums. All three components were below 50 in the first quarter: The component measuring low-rent units fell one point to 47, the component measuring market rate rental units decreased seven points to 42 and the component measuring for-sale units dropped 13 points to 31.

The MVI measures the multifamily housing industry's perception of vacancies in existing apartments. It is a weighted average of current occupancy indexes for class A, B, and C multifamily units, and can vary from 0 to 100, where a number under 50 indicates more property managers believe vacancies are decreasing than increasing. With a reading of 48, this is the highest reading since the first quarter of 2010.

"Builders and developers are being cautious to see what happens with projects that were recently completed," Gary Campbell, CEO of Gilbert G. Campbell Real Estate in Lowell, Mass., and chairman of NAHB’s Multifamily Council. "However, we're seeing that developers are reasonably optimistic about what's ahead for units on the affordable end of the spectrum."

"The recent weakness in the MPI is consistent with our forecast for 2019," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "Multifamily housing starts experienced a gain in 2018. Even after a slight decline for starts in the first quarter of 2019, permit growth is occurring, and production should level off moving forward. The market remains dominated by rental production, with a 94 percent share at the start of 2019.”

Historically, the MPI and MVI have performed well as leading indicators of U.S. Census figures for multifamily starts and vacancy rates, providing information on likely movement in the Census figures one to three quarters in advance.

For data tables on the MPI and MVI, visit www.nahb.org/mms.

For more information on the NAHB Multifamily program, please visit NAHB Multifamily: https://www.nahb.org/en/members/committees-and-councils/councils/multifamily-council/nahb-multifamily.aspx.

Disaster Preparedness Must Focus on Upgrading Older Homes and Infrastructure

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today called on Congress to focus on improving the older homes, structures and infrastructure that are less resilient to natural disasters because they were built when there were no national model codes in existence or constructed following codes that are now outdated.

“Sound building codes are already in place in most communities and they are doing their job,” said Randy Noel, NAHB immediate past chairman and a home builder and developer from LaPlace, La.

Testifying at a House hearing on disaster preparedness, Noel said that calling for newer and more stringent building codes to ease damages caused by natural disasters would do little to ease disaster mitigation efforts in vulnerable communities, increase housing costs, and ignore the root of the problem.

“Requiring the use of ‘latest published editions’ of certain codes or standards is too prescriptive,” said Noel. “New construction is built to more stringent codes and standards and is more resilient than older housing – a fact that FEMA and others have reported numerous times.”

What became readily apparent in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane season in 2017 and the California wildfires of last year is that properties that suffered the most damage were largely older housing stock. One hundred and thirty million homes out of the nation’s housing stock of 137 million were built before 2010, and therefore not subject to the modern building codes that are now in effect.

“Adopting more stringent and costly building and mitigation requirements would do very little to provide further protection from natural disasters,” said Noel. “What it would do is make new housing prohibitively expensive for hard-working families at a time when the nation is already suffering through a housing affordability crisis.”

NAHB also believes that state and local governments must have the ability to adopt location-appropriate building codes to fit the needs of their communities and protect their citizens. “What is best for Nevada is not necessarily best for North Carolina,” said Noel.

To mitigate the effects of future natural disasters, NAHB is urging Congress to focus on cost-effective, market-driven solutions that encourage greater resiliency in the nation’s housing stock while preserving housing affordability for both new and existing homes.

“Expanding mitigation opportunities and creating incentives to facilitate upgrades and improvements to older homes and structures would help to reduce risks and minimize losses from future catastrophes,” said Noel.

Statement from NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde on Trade Developments with Mexico and Canada

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., issued the following statement after the White House announced the U.S. would remove tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico:

“NAHB commends President Trump for removing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico. This will provide momentum for Congress to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which holds the potential to lift the housing economy.

“Now that the White House has achieved substantial progress in advancing the USMCA, we urge the administration to focus its efforts on resolving the softwood lumber trade dispute with Canada. Tariffs averaging more than 20 percent on Canadian softwood lumber shipments into the U.S. are exacerbating price volatility and needlessly driving up housing costs. A prompt resolution to this ongoing trade conflict with our neighbor to the north will help to ease ongoing housing affordability concerns.”

Single-Family and Multifamily Starts Post Solid Gains in April

Total housing starts rose 5.7 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.24 million units from an upwardly revised reading in March, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department.

The April reading of 1.24 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts increased 6.2 percent to 854,000 units. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 4.7 percent to a 381,000 pace.

“Builders remain cautious due to affordability concerns,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “But as our builder confidence survey shows, their expectations indicate consumers will respond to lower interest rates moving forward and the housing market will continue on a slow, steady climb.”

“Though an overall encouraging report for the month of April, the soft permit numbers for single-family housing indicate concerns about housing affordability and construction costs,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Builders continue to focus on managing home construction costs as they try to meet growing housing demand. NAHB analysis of first quarter permit data show growth in more affordable exurban locations.”

Regionally, combined single-family and multifamily starts in April rose 84.6 percent in the Northeast and 42 percent in the Midwest. Starts declined 5.7 percent in the South and 5.5 percent in the West

Overall permits, which are a harbinger of future housing production, edged up 0.6 percent to a 1.3 million unit annualized rate in April. Single-family permits fell 4.2 percent to 782,00, the lowest level since October 2016. Multifamily permits increased 8.9 percent to 514,000.

Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 2.2 percent in the Midwest and 5.3 percent in the West. Permits fell 4 percent in the Northeast and 1.2 percent in the South.

Builder Confidence Posts Solid Gain in May

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose three points to 66 in May, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. Builder sentiment is at its highest level since October 2018.

“Builders are busy catching up after a wet winter and many characterize sales as solid, driven by improved demand and ongoing low overall supply,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “However, affordability challenges persist and remain a big impediment to stronger sales.”

“Mortgage rates are hovering just above 4 percent following a challenging fourth quarter of 2018 when they peaked near 5 percent. This lower-interest rate environment, along with ongoing job growth and rising wages, is contributing to a gradual improvement in the marketplace,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “At the same time, builders continue to deal with ongoing labor and lot shortages and rising material costs that are holding back supply and harming affordability.”

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 the HMI indices posted gains in May. The index measuring current sales conditions rose three points to 72, the component gauging expectations in the next six months edged one point higher to 72 and the metric charting buyer traffic moved up two points to 49.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast posted a six-point gain to 57, the West increased two points to 71, the Midwest gained one point to 54, and the South rose a single point to 68.

Editor's Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

Housing Affordability Holds Steady on a Year-Over-Year Basis

Lower home prices, declining mortgage rates and solid income gains contributed to a rise in housing affordability in the first quarter of 2019, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) released today. However, the HOI was little changed on a year-over-year basis, as home buyers continue to face ongoing challenges in terms of limited inventory, especially among starter homes for prospective first-time buyers.

In all, 61.4 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of January and end of March were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $75,500. This is up from the 56.6 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2018 that were affordable to median-income earners and relatively unchanged compared to a first quarter 2018 reading of 61.6.

As home price gains slowed during 2018, the national median home price moved down from $262,500 in the fourth quarter of 2018 to $260,000 in the first quarter. At the same time, average mortgage rates fell by 25 basis points in the first quarter to 4.64 percent from 4.89 percent in the fourth quarter.

“While the recent rise in affordability is welcome news, builders continue to struggle with rising construction and development costs stemming from excessive regulations, a lack of buildable lots and a shortage of construction workers,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “This means that housing affordability is going to continue to be a challenge throughout 2019, particularly in high-cost markets.”

“Though the Federal Reserve’s more dovish monetary policy stance has lowered interest rates, income growth still has not kept up with rising construction costs and home price appreciation in recent years,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Today four out of every 10 new and existing home sales are not affordable for a typical family. Considering recent income gains due to tax reform and a tight labor market, these affordability concerns become even more pronounced.”

For the second consecutive quarter, Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., remained as the nation’s most affordable major housing market. There, 93.3 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $59,800. Meanwhile, Fairbanks, Alaska, was rated the nation’s most affordable smaller market, with 94.7 percent of homes sold in the first quarter being affordable to families earning the median income of $92,400.

Rounding out the top five affordable major housing markets in respective order were Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.; Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Scranton-Wilkes Barre-Hazleton, Pa.

Smaller markets joining Fairbanks at the top of the list included Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, N.Y.; Kokomo, Ind.; Elmira, N.Y.; and Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.

San Francisco, for the sixth straight quarter, was the nation’s least affordable major market. There, just 6.9 percent of the homes sold in the first quarter of 2019 were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $122,200.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were located in California. In descending order, they included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara; and San Diego-Carlsbad.

All five least affordable small housing markets were also in the Golden State. At the very bottom of the affordability chart was Salinas, where 12.6 percent of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $74,100.

In descending order, other small markets at the lowest end of the affordability scale included Santa Cruz-Watsonville; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande; San Rafael; and Santa Maria-Santa Barbara.

Please visit www.nahb.org/hoi for tables, historic data and details.

Editor's Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) is a measure of the percentage of homes sold in a given area that are affordable to families earning the area's median income during a specific quarter. Prices of new and existing homes sold are collected from actual court records by Core Logic, a data and analytics company. Mortgage financing conditions incorporate interest rates on fixed- and adjustable-rate loans reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

55+ Housing Market Opens First Quarter with Record High

Builder confidence in the single-family 55+ housing market continued to strengthen in the first quarter of 2019 with a reading of 72, up six points from the previous quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) 55+ Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. This is the highest reading since the inception of the index in 2008.

The 55+ HMI measures two segments of the 55+ housing market: single-family homes and multifamily condominiums. Each segment of the 55+ HMI measures builder sentiment based on a survey that asks if current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market are good, fair or poor (high, average or low for traffic).

"Overall, demand for homes in 55+ communities remain strong as more buyers and renters in that market search for simpler living arrangements,” said Karen Schroeder, chair of NAHB's 55+ Housing Industry Council and vice president of Mayberry Homes in East Lansing, Mich. “However, there are still headwinds that are impacting the market, such as rising construction costs and a lack of skilled labor.”

All three index components of the 55+ single-family HMI posted increases from the previous quarter: Present sales rose four points to 76, expected sales for the next six months increased seven points to 77 and traffic of prospective buyers climbed eight points to 61.

The 55+ multifamily condo HMI posted a gain of 10 points to 57. All three index components posted increases from the previous quarter: Present sales increased seven points to 58, expected sales for the next six months rose 13 points to 62 and traffic of prospective buyers jumped 14 points to 52.

Two of the four components of the 55+ multifamily rental market went up from the fourth quarter: Future expected production increased four points to 58 and future expected demand inched up one point to 63. Present production dropped two points to 58 and present demand for existing units fell six points to 61.

"Favorable demographics and recent declines in mortgage rates have helped support demand for 55+ housing," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "We expect continued growth in the 55+ housing market, provided builders are able to manage the challenges of regulatory, land acquisition and construction costs.”

For the full 55+ HMI tables, please visit nahb.org/55hmi.

Remodeling Labor Shortage Continues to Impact Industry

The labor shortage for the remodeling industry continues to impact the industry, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers. NAHB released the survey results, which highlights availability of labor and subcontractors, to kick off National Home Remodeling Month in May.

“The labor shortage continues to be one of the top concerns for remodelers across the country,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Tim Ellis, CAPS, CGP, CGR, GMR, Master CGP, a remodeler from Bel Air, Md. “An ongoing challenge for remodelers is keeping their prices competitive while dealing with the increasing costs of labor.”

In the survey, remodelers reported a ‘serious shortage’ or ‘some shortage’ of labor for the following jobs: 

  • 84 percent carpenters - finished
  • 85 percent carpenters - rough
  • 81 percent framing crews
  • 71 percent bricklayers/masons
  • 58 percent electricians

Remodelers also reported leading effects the labor shortages have on their businesses:

  • 78 percent higher wages/subcontractor bids
  • 72 percent higher prices for customers
  • 67 percent difficulty completing the projects on time
  • 53 percent turning down some projects

“Working in the remodeling industry provides job security and high wages,” said Ellis. “NAHB is attempting to change the stigma of working in the trades by increasing awareness to teens and parents, and providing them with education and the skills they need to succeed.”

For more information on the survey, visit: http://eyeonhousing.org/2019/05/for-remodelers-shortages-of-skilled-labor-remain-elevated/.

For more information about remodeling, visit nahb.org/remodel.

Waters Bill a Step Forward to Ease Nation’s Housing Affordability Woes

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today commended House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters for proposing draft legislation to address the nation’s housing affordability crisis and called on the administration and Congress to make this issue a national policy priority.

Testifying on behalf of NAHB before the House Financial Services Committee, Steve Lawson, chairman of The Lawson Companies based in Virginia, said that the legislation drafted by the California Democrat underscores the role that additional costs, such as fees associated with infrastructure, play in housing affordability.

“The ‘Housing is Infrastructure Act’ focuses on reducing development costs for low-income housing,” said Lawson. “This bill represents a positive step forward to remove barriers to affordable housing and will help builders and developers to construct housing at lower price points.” 

While the legislation would provide increased funding for important affordable housing programs, seek to lower impact fees and streamline the development process, Lawson cited several other steps that lawmakers should take to improve housing affordability.

“Addressing labor shortages in the construction industry, ensuring continued liquidity in the secondary mortgage market through meaningful housing finance reform, and enhancing the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to promote the construction of sorely needed rental apartments must be part of any comprehensive affordable housing strategy,” he said. “NAHB is also urging federal policymakers to adopt sensible workforce development and immigration policies that will help the residential construction industry fill open jobs.”

Excessive regulations are also contributing to the housing affordability crisis. On average, regulations imposed by government at all levels account for nearly 25 percent of the price of building a single-family home and more than 30 percent of the cost of a typical multifamily development.

“Regulatory reform is important because it will help improve housing affordability by lowering development costs,” said Lawson.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index shows that housing affordability in the single-family market is at a 10-year low. Only 56.6 percent of new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2018 were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $71,900.

“As a nation, we can and must do better,” said Lawson. “NAHB stands ready to work with Democratic and Republican lawmakers to enact sensible solutions to boost the supply of affordable housing.”

Statement from NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde on Rep. Waters Housing Bill

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., issued the following statement on House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Water’s housing bill:

“NAHB commends Chairwoman Waters for making it a priority to address the nation’s housing affordability crisis by introducing the ‘Housing is Infrastructure Act.’ The chairwoman’s bill highlights the role that additional costs, such as fees associated with infrastructure, play in housing affordability. Providing increased funding for important affordable housing programs and working to lower impact fees and streamline the development process are positive steps to address the nation’s unmet demand for low-income rental housing. NAHB looks forward to working with Chairwoman Waters and members of Congress to explore strategies to remove barriers to affordable housing development.”

Lower Interest Rates Help Boost March New Home Sales

Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 692,000 units in March after a slightly revised February report, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the highest sales pace since November 2017.

"These numbers indicate that builders who can produce housing at affordable price points will experience sales growth,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “However, builders are still dealing with a shortage of construction workers and buildable lots, which limits housing affordability.”

“We saw a large gain at lower price points where demand is strong. In March of 2019, 50 percent of new home sales were priced below $300,000, compared to 39 percent in March of 2018,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “These are the price points that are attractive for renters seeking to become homeowners.”

A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed. In addition to adjusting for seasonal effects, the March reading of 692,000 units is the number of homes that would sell if this pace continued for the next 12 months.

The inventory of new homes for sale was 344,000 in March, representing a 6 months’ supply. The median sales price was $302,700 with strong gains in homes sold at lower price points. The median price of a new home sale a year earlier was $335,400.

Regionally, and on a year to date basis, new home sales fell 17.6 percent in the Northeast, 8.1 percent in Midwest and 5.9 percent in the West. Sales rose 9.6 percent in the South, where 58 percent of new home sales occurred in March.

Housing Starts Decline in March

Total housing starts fell 0.3 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million units from a downwardly revised reading in February, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department that was delayed due to the partial government shutdown.

The March reading of 1.14 million is the number of housing units builders would begin construction if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts fell 0.4 percent to 785,000 units. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, remained flat at 354,000.

“Despite signs of stabilization of confidence in the marketplace, housing affordability continues to be a concern as housing construction weakens into March,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. 

“Data in the early months of 2019 show single-family starts are off 5 percent from this time in 2018, with notable weakness in the Midwest and West,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Several factors are negatively affecting the housing market, including excessive regulations, a lack of buildable lots and ongoing labor shortages. Recent declines in mortgage rates should help support the market in future months however.”

Regionally, combined single-family and multifamily starts year to date declined 14.2 percent in the Northeast, 10.9 percent in the Midwest and 27.1 percent in the West. Starts posted a 1.5 percent increase in the South.

Overall permits, which are often a harbinger of future housing production, edged 1.7 percent lower in March to 1.27 million units. Single-family permits fell 1.1 percent to an annualized pace of 808,000, while multifamily permits dropped 2.7 percent to an annual rate of 461,000.

Looking at regional permit data on a year to date basis, permits are down 3.7 percent in the Midwest, 0.4 percent in the South and 16.9 percent in in the West. The Northeast remained unchanged.

Remodelers’ Confidence Falls Three Points in First Quarter of 2019

The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI) posted a reading of 54 in the first quarter of 2019, falling three points from the previous quarter. The RMI has been consistently above 50—indicating that more remodelers report market activity is higher compared to the prior quarter than report it is lower—since the second quarter of 2013. The overall RMI averages current remodeling activity and future indicators.

“The demand for remodeling is strong in many parts of the country due to insufficient home construction and an aging housing stock,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Tim Ellis, CAPS, CGP, CGR, GMR, Master CGP, a remodeler from Bel Air, Md. “However, it can be difficult to find skilled labor for remodeling projects.”

Current market conditions dipped four points from the previous quarter to 53. Among its three major components, major additions and alterations fell seven points to 49, minor additions and alterations waned one point to 55 and the home maintenance and repair component decreased three points to 56.

The future market indicators dropped two points from the previous quarter to 54. Calls for bids fell three points to 54, amount of work committed for the next three months increased two points to 54, the backlog of remodeling jobs fell five points to 54 and appointments for proposals remained steady at 55.

“The Remodeling Market Index declined in the first quarter but remains over 50, indicating the market will continue to expand at modest rates,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “NAHB’s forecast calls for slowing growth, given declining home price appreciation and existing home sales volume, combined with rising construction costs.”

For the full RMI tables, please visit www.nahb.org/rmi. For more information about remodeling, visit www.nahb.org/remodel.

Builder Confidence Edges Higher in April

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose one point to 63 in April, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. Sentiment levels have held in the low 60s for the past three months.

“Builders report solid demand for new single-family homes but they are also grappling with affordability concerns stemming from a chronic shortage of construction workers and buildable lots,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“Ongoing job growth, favorable demographics and a low-interest rate environment will help to modestly spark sales growth in the near term,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, supply-side headwinds that are putting upward pressure on housing costs will limit more robust growth in the housing market.”

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.

The HMI index gauging current sales conditions increased one point to 69, and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers rose three points to 47. The measure charting sales expectations in the next six months fell one point to 71.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast posted a three-point gain to 51, the Midwest increased two points to 53, and the South was up one point to 67. The West remained unchanged at 69.

Editor's Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

Statement from NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde on Senate Confirmation of Mark Calabria as FHFA Director

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Mark Calabria as the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency:

“NAHB congratulates Mark Calabria on his Senate confirmation as the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. He brings considerable housing finance experience to the job. We look forward to working with Mark to advance comprehensive housing finance reform that maintains an appropriate level of federal support to ensure an adequate flow of affordable housing credit in all economic and financial conditions.”

First-Time Home Buyers Battle Rising Prices, Seek Better Homes

As the housing industry celebrates New Homes Month in April, recent data from the American Housing Survey (AHS) confirms nearly two-thirds of first-time home buyers say a better home is the top reason for moving, followed by household formation, 61 percent and a better neighborhood, 49 percent.

First-time home buyers make up 37 percent of all households who purchased homes in the two years preceding the release of the 2017 AHS, down from 39 percent in the 2015 AHS. The median price of homes purchased by recent home buyers, including first-time buyers and previous home owners, known as trade-up buyers, increased by 10 percent from the 2015 AHS.

“First-time home buyers are eager to move to better homes and neighborhoods, yet home prices remain a challenge,” said National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Greg Ugalde, a builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Public policies and incentives that support home affordability can help buyers find a home that fits their lifestyle and family.”

Home builders recognize the complexity of factors that contribute to higher home prices and the cost of housing. In today’s market, issues such as the supply of land; federal, state and local regulatory requirements; and a shortage of skilled labor makes it difficult to increase the supply of affordable housing.

The demographics of first-time and trade-up home buyers remained largely unchanged from the 2015 AHS: the typical home buyer was 40 years old; first-time buyers had a median age of 32, compared to a median age of 47 for trade-up buyers. Twenty-seven percent of recent home buyers were racial or ethnic minorities, about the same as in the 2015 AHS.

In a positive sign for the spring home buying season, the Federal Reserve last week signaled that it envisions no rate increases in 2019 and only a single rate hike in 2020. While public policies to improve housing affordability are needed, the recent Fed announcement will help housing markets this year.

Home buyers can access home buying and home building information and resources at NewHomesMonth.org.

New Home Sales Show Solid Growth in February

Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 667,00 units in February after an upwardly revised January report, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the highest sales pace since March 2018.

The sales report was delayed due to the partial government shutdown.

“The recent decline in mortgage rates have helped boost sales activity as home buyers take advantage of these lower interest rates,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“The new home sales data continue to show potential to grow sales at affordable price points that would be attractive for the entry-level buyer,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, builders need to be mindful of housing costs as they try to meet this demand.”

A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed. In addition to adjusting for seasonal effects, the February reading of 667,000 units is the number of homes that would sell if this pace continued for the next 12 months.

The inventory of new homes for sale was 340,000 in February and has been relatively flat since December. The median sales price was $315,300 as most sales growth took place in the $200,000-$400,000 sales class.

Regionally, and on a monthly basis, new home sales rose 26.9 percent in the Northeast, 28.3 percent in Midwest and 1.8 percent in the South. The West remained unchanged.

Statement from NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde on NAFTA Panel Ruling

Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., issued the following statement after the NAFTA Binational Panel agreed to allow NAHB to file an amicus brief regarding the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber trade dispute:

“The fact that the NAFTA Binational Panel agreed to allow NAHB to file an amicus in support of Canada’s challenge to duties on softwood lumber imports into the U.S. represents a positive development for American consumers and housing affordability. Duties averaging more than 20 percent increase volatility in the lumber market and needlessly push up housing costs.

“The panel affirmed that ‘NAHB is uniquely situated’ to discuss ‘the issue of substitutability’ when it comes to different types of lumber used in the home construction process. We welcome the opportunity to provide this unique home building perspective to this issue. It is our hope it will serve as an impetus for the U.S. and Canada to hammer out a long-term solution to this problem that will satisfy all sides—including domestic industries and consumers—that rely on softwood lumber for their economic well-being.”

NAHB Commends Trump Memorandum on Housing Finance Reform

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today commended President Trump for putting housing finance reform at the top of the national agenda and signing a memorandum directing relevant agencies to develop a plan that will help more Americans achieve the dream of homeownership.

“We applaud the president for taking an active leadership role to revamp the nation’s housing finance system,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “NAHB is especially pleased that his memorandum specifically cites the importance of preserving the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, which has enabled millions of American families to build wealth and financial security through homeownership.”

The president’s announcement follows two days of hearings before the Senate Banking Committee earlier this week on Senator Mike Crapo’s proposal to overhaul the housing finance system. Ugalde testified on this issue yesterday before the panel, and these developments should build momentum for the administration and Congress to work together to achieve comprehensive reform that improves the nation’s housing finance system.

“The right reforms are critical to maintain a healthy housing market and ensure that single-family and multifamily housing credit for sale and rental properties remains readily available,” said Ugalde.

The next step is for Congress to move this process forward to revamp the housing finance system in a way that won’t interrupt the flow of credit.

“NAHB looks forward to working with the White House and Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress to pass bipartisan housing finance legislation that provide certainty to the marketplace while maintaining the proper level of government support for housing in all economic and financial market conditions.”

Crapo’s Housing Finance Reform Plan Moves the Debate Forward

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today commended Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo for developing his housing finance reform proposal and believes it will serve as an important marker to move the debate forward in Congress.

Testifying on this issue before the Senate Banking Committee, NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn., said that an effective housing finance system must address liquidity as well as affordability.

“An essential component of any strategy for housing affordability must be advancing comprehensive housing finance reform which will ensure the capital and liquidity necessary for housing developers, builders, lenders and consumers to access stable financing,” said Ugalde.

NAHB believes that Chairman Crapo has put forth a thoughtful outline for housing finance reform that includes essential elements that would achieve these aims.

“In particular, we appreciate the chairman’s continued support for an explicit government backstop for a key portion of the conventional mortgage market,” said Ugalde. “We firmly believe this is critical to ensuring the ongoing availability of the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, which is essential to affordable homeownership, as well as preserving support for the financing of affordable multifamily properties.”

With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac languishing in conservatorship for the past decade, NAHB has been a strong proponent of comprehensive housing finance reform.

“Having Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue in conservatorship with no end in sight contributes to uncertainty regarding mortgage availability and affordability and is therefore both undesirable and unsustainable,” said Ugalde.

Given the significant role that housing plays in the economy, Ugalde urged lawmakers to take a long-term, holistic approach to housing finance system reform.

“NAHB also urges Congress to carefully consider the differences between the single-family and multifamily market and not apply solutions to one piece of the market that are not appropriate for the other,” he said.

February Housing Starts Down After Single-Family Surge in January

Total housing starts fell 8.7 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million units from an upwardly revised reading in January, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department that was delayed due to the partial government shutdown.

The February reading of 1.16 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts fell 17 percent to 805,000 units following an unusually high reading of 970,000 units in January. Meanwhile, the multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 17.8 percent to 357,000.

“The overall lower starts numbers are somewhat deceiving given the revised single-family starts figure in January was at a post-recession high,” said Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, AVP for Forecasting and Analysis at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “Absent the surge last month, the drop in single-family production in February is not as huge as it appears. Still, builders continue to remain cautious due to affordability concerns, as illustrated by the flat permits data.”

“The February starts figures are somewhat in line with flat builder expectations and serve as a cautionary note that affordability factors continue to affect the marketplace,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of NAHB and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Excessive regulations, a scarcity of buildable lots, persistent labor shortages and tariffs on lumber and other key building materials are having a negative effect on housing affordability.”

Regionally, combined single-family and multifamily starts in February fell 29.5 percent in the Northeast, 18.9 percent in the West and 6.8 percent in the South. Starts posted a 26.8 percent increase in the Midwest.

Overall permits, which are often a harbinger of future housing production, edged 1.6 percent lower in February to 1.30 million units. Single-family permits held steady at 821,000, while multifamily permits fell 4.2 percent to 475,000.

Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 1.5 percent in the Northeast, 4 percent in the South and 1.1 percent in the Midwest. Permits fell 15 percent in the West.

Darylene Dennon Named 2019 NAHB Professional Women in Building Council Chair

Darylene Dennon, chief executive officer and owner of Solid Energy Inc. in Woodinville, Wash., was recently sworn in as the 2019 chair of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Professional Women in Building (PWB) Council.

As chair of the PWB Council, Dennon will manage the council's business and represent the interests of the council members throughout NAHB. Her focus as Chair is to mentor other women and invite different ethnic, cultural and multigenerational building industry perspectives to the table.

“I am a big believer in mentoring to empower others to empower themselves,” said Dennon. “I look forwarding building upon a great team of women on the council and working together to continue the great work that the council has been doing for the industry.”

Dennon and her husband started Solid Energy Inc., a painting and light remodeling company, in 1988. She was awarded the prestigious NAHB PWB Woman of the Year award in 2015, is the co-founder of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish’s PWB Council and is a NAHB Director.

Dennon was the first woman president for the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) Washington State Council and president of the national PDCA in 2011-2013. She was also the first woman president for the Construction Industry Training Council, a state certified open shop apprenticeship institute in Washington.

Dennon is a presenter, author and speaker on topics concerning the building industry, leadership, business development and sales.

For more information about Professional Women in Building, visit nahb.org/whypwb.

Builder Confidence Holds Steady in March

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes held steady at 62 in March, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today.

“Builders report the market is stabilizing following the slowdown at the end of 2018 and they anticipate a solid spring home buying season,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“In a healthy sign for the housing market, more builders are saying that lower price points are selling well, and this was reflected in the government’s new home sales report released last week,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Increased inventory of affordably priced homes – in markets where government policies support such construction – will enable more entry-level buyers to enter the market.”

However, affordability still remains a key concern for builders. The skilled worker shortage, lack of buildable lots and stiff zoning restrictions in many major metro markets are among the challenges builders face as they strive to construct homes that can sell at affordable price points.

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.

The HMI component charting sales expectations in the next six months rose three points to 71, the index gauging current sales conditions increased two points to 68, and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers fell four points to 44. Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast posted a five-point gain to 48, the South was up three points to 66 and West increased two points to 69. The Midwest posted a one-point decline to 51.

Editor’s Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

January New Home Sales Demonstrate Demand for Affordable Homes

The January new home sales report from the government indicates an increasing demand for homes sold in an affordable price range.

In January 2019, 66 percent of new single-family home sales were priced between $200,000 and $400,000 vs. 22 percent of homes that were sold in the $400,000 to $750,000 range. This compares to 51 percent of homes sold in the $200,000 to $400,000 range in January 2018, and 29 percent that were sold in the $400,000 to $750,000 price category.

“These numbers indicate that builders who can produce housing at affordable price points in markets across the nation will be able to meet this sales demand that is generated by healthy household formations and solid job and wage growth,” said Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Today’s report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census bureau shows that sales of newly built, single-family homes fell 6.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 607,000 units after a sharp upwardly revised December report. The sales data was delayed due to the partial government shutdown.

The data also show that new home sales posted a 2.3 percent gain for 2018 and the yearly total of 627,000 is the highest sales level since the Great Recession.

“Declines in mortgage rates brought buyers back into the market at the end of 2018 and moving into the new year,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “After a challenging period last fall, builders expect a solid spring home buying season.”

The inventory of new homes for sale rose to 336,000 in January, which represents a slightly elevated 6.6-month supply at the current sales rate. The median sales price was $317,200.

Regionally, on a monthly basis, new home sales fell 11.4 percent in the Northeast, 28.6 percent in the Midwest and 15.1 percent in the South. Sales rose 27.8 percent in the West.

LIXIL Americas, Makers of American Standard, Continue to Support Skilled Labor Fund

The National Housing Endowment, the philanthropic arm of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), today welcomed a significant donation from plumbing fixture manufacturer LIXIL Americas for the Skilled Labor Fund, an industry-wide effort to provide scholarships and educational assistance designed to address the shortage of skilled labor entering the residential construction market.

“A continued contribution to the Skilled Labor Fund speaks to LIXIL America’s strong sense of corporate responsibility in the face of the workforce shortage,” said Ted Mahoney, a member of the Fund’s Operating Committee and Chairman-Elect of the Endowment.

Nearly 80 percent of builders report shortages of workers across the 15 occupations that make up the skilled trades according to NAHB’s most recent survey data. Plumbers are no exception.

“The pain is shared by consumers and builders alike in the form of less supply, higher prices and longer lead times to complete new homes and remodeling projects,” said Endowment President and CEO Mark Pursell.

"Plumbers perform vital, complex work to protect the health of the nation. Currently, millions of stable, highly-lucrative trade jobs remain unfilled, and the health of our communities is at risk,” said Steven Delarge, Chief Executive Officer, LIXIL Americas. “This gap will continue to grow, and therefore, we must build the ‘next generation’ of trained plumbers by fostering partnerships with vocational schools as well as collaboration and outreach to other critical influencers of the building and construction industry."

The Skilled Labor Fund is a partnership of NAHB, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the National Kitchen & Bath Association, SGC Horizon and Hydrogen, a full-service advertising agency. The Fund focuses solely on skilled labor for the residential market.

“We are finally seeing some recognition by schools and parents that a career as a skilled trades person offers a rewarding path for young people,” said Mahoney. “It is up to all of us in the residential supply chain to help provide training programs for our future workforce.”

Visit SkilledlaborFund.org to learn more.

Housing Starts Rebound in January

Total housing starts rose 18.6 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.23 million units from a downwardly revised reading in December, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department that was delayed due to the partial government shutdown.

The January reading of 1.23 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts surged 25.1 percent to 926,000 units. Meanwhile, the multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 2.4 percent to 304,000.

“The bounce back in single-family starts mirrors our builder confidence surveys, as sentiment fell in the latter part of 2018 but rebounded in January after mortgage rates showed a notable decline,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn.

“Some single-family projects that were on pause in December, meaning they were authorized but not started, went online in January. However, builders remain cautious as single-family permit numbers in January were somewhat soft,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

Regionally, combined single-family and multifamily starts in January rose 58.5 percent in the Northeast, 29.3 percent in the West and 13.8 percent in the South. Starts fell 5.7 percent in the Midwest.

Overall permits, which are often a harbinger of future housing production, rose 1.4 percent to 1.35 million units in January. Single-family permits fell 2.1 percent to 812,000, the lowest level since August 2017. Multifamily permits increased 7.2 percent to 533,000.

Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 33.1 percent in the Midwest and 26.4 percent in the Northeast. Permits fell 8.9 percent in the West and 3.5 percent in the South.

New Home Sales End the Year Up 1.5 Percent

Sales of newly built, single-family homes posted a yearly gain of 1.5 percent in 2018, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. The December sales numbers rose 3.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 621,000 units after a downwardly revised November report.

The sales report was delayed due to the partial government shutdown.

“The slight gain for 2018 new home sales reflects solid underlying demand for homeownership,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Housing affordability remains a challenge across the country, but conditions have improved in early 2019, as illustrated by the recent uptick in builder confidence.”

“Despite a period of weakness in the fall, new home sales ended the year with a small gain,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “While the December sales pace improved on a monthly basis, the current rate of sales remains off the post-Great Recession trend due to housing affordability concerns made worse by the rise in mortgage interest rates at the end of the year. We expect lower mortgage rates in the early months of 2019 will lead to additional new home demand.”

A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed. In addition to adjusting for seasonal effects, the December reading of 621,000 units is the number of homes that would sell if this pace continued for the next 12 months.

The inventory of new homes for sale continued to rise in December to 344,000 homes available for sale. A year prior, new single-family home inventory stood at 294,000. The median sales price increased in December to $318,600, although it is lower than a year ago when the median sales price was $343,300. This is primarily due to the rising use of price incentives and a slow change toward additional entry-level inventory.

Regionally, on a total year basis for 2018, new home sales declined 16 percent in the Northeast and one percent in the West. Sales rose four percent in the South and six percent in the Midwest.