Housing Construction Soars

The Mortgage Corner

Housing construction is taking off, as I predicted two weeks ago. The numbers show actual construction starts accelerating as well as building permits for future construction. It is also boosting builder confidence to a level that signals continued growth in new construction.

As Econoday reported, “Don’t let the headline fool you (i.e., slight drop in June), the housing starts & permits report points to solid strength for the housing sector.” Though the Calculated Risk graph shows how far the housing market is from a true recovery. It is only now returning to the lows of the 1990 recession.

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Graph: Calculated Risk

Housing starts came in at a 1.036 million rate in May, down 11.1 percent from the April rate but the April rate, which was already one for the record books, is now revised higher to 1.165 million, a 22.1 percent gain from March. Sealing matters is another gigantic surge in permits, up 11.8 percent to 1.275 million following a 9.8 percent gain in April.

And builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in June rose five points to a level of 59, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest reading since September 2014, and in fact returns the index to pre-bubble (2001-02) levels.

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Graph: Calculated Risk

“The HMI indices measuring current and future sales expectations are at their highest levels since the last quarter of 2005, indicating a growing optimism among builders that housing will continue to strengthen in the months ahead,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “At the same time, builders remain sensitive to consumers’ ability to buy a new home.”

All three HMI components posted healthy gains in June. The component gauging current sales conditions jumped seven points to 65, the index charting sales expectations in the next six months increased six points to 69, and the component measuring buyer traffic rose five points to 44, said the press release.

Why the huge construction increase in June? This is while mortgage rates are rising, up some 0.375 percent since their most recent lows to 3.875 percent for 0 points in origination fees for a 30-year fixed rate conforming loan. Firstly, it means consumers are confident enough in their future to begin to look for housing to support their growing families.

And this is, of course, the millennial generation aged 18 to 36 years that has already surpassed their parents’ baby boomer population size, and will exceed it by 2020, according to demographers.

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Graph: CNBC

Also, household formation is finally returning to normal levels of 1 million plus new households being formed per year, as the so-called echo boomers move out of their parents’ homes and or leave college to make their own nests.

Household formation has been unusually low over the past seven years, averaging 577,000 new households. Whereas, there are approximately 15 million new households per decade being formed during normal times.

So, “there’s a ton of people living in basements,” Tommy Lee of Fundstrat Global Advisors said in an interview with CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “Two quarters of pretty decent household formation isn’t getting everybody out of the basement. I think this means we have multiple years where household formations are well over 1.3 million, 1.4 million.”

Forecasters will be revising their second-quarter GDP estimates higher following today’s report, says Econoday, not to mention their estimates for Thursday’s index of leading economic indicators where permits are one of the components.

Harlan Green © 2015

Follow Harlan Green on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarlanGreen

About populareconomicsblog

Harlan Green is editor/publisher of PopularEconomics.com, and content provider of 3 weekly columns to various blogs--Popular Economics Weekly and The Huffington Post
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