New home starts fell in April from the month before
17 May, 2018, 15:55
Single-family starts on an annualized basis have run at least 200,000 units below what is needed to meet housing demand, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and other analysts have said.
Despite the solid numbers of the May report due to "growing consumer demand for single-family homes", Randy Noel, Chairman, NAHB said that record high prices of lumber were hurting bottom lines and "making it more hard to produce competitively priced houses for newcomers to the market".
Homebuyers have been snapping up newly built houses as the economic outlook has continued to improve in recent months. 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 subindex measuring sales expectations for the next six months also remained unchanged at 77.
So far, mortgage interest rates have not derailed sales. A year ago, the rate averaged 4.05 percent.
Capacity utilization for the industrial sector climbed 0.4 of a percentage point in April to 78%, a rate that is 1.8 percentage points below its 1972-2017 average. "Fundamentally, demand for new homes should remain strong, with the economy operating near full employment and inventory of existing homes constrained in major markets across the country; however, we believe the vast majority of construction continues to focus on market segments with higher price points, meaning construction is unlikely to provide any direct relief to the much more constrained entry level market segments".
The Fed has signaled that it will raise rates twice more this year, after having done so initially in March, and most economists foresee the next increase in June. "However, the record-high cost of lumber is hurting builders' bottom lines and making it more hard to produce competitively priced houses for newcomers to the market".
In addition to higher materials costs, builders have been struggling to find the skilled workers they need to start new projects.
Single-family home starts, the biggest share of the market, performed better, advancing 0.1% month-over-month. "With homeownership rates on the rise, demand for single-family homes should continue to spur production in the months ahead".
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