Tag Archives: nahb

JCHS: Pent-Up Demand for Additional Household Formation is Fraught with Uncertainties

by George Masnick


In early 2011, economists at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that the slowdown in household formation that started in 2007 with the advent of the Great Recession had produced a 2.1 million household formation shortfall by 2010. The authors concluded that the demand for new housing should accelerate dramatically once the economic recovery releases this “pent-up” demand. Another pent-up demand calculation, by Jed Kolko at Trulia, estimated 2.6 million “missing households” in 2010. After three additional years in which the economy has improved on many fronts – albeit at a slow pace – the 2013 Trulia deficit in the household count was still estimated at 2.4 million. But how solid are these estimates and how likely is it that household formation rates will return to pre-recession levels?


One difficulty in making these calculations is that actual household growth estimates since 2007 vary considerably from year to year and are inconsistent among data sets (Figure 1). There is good reason to believe that the most widely used data to track household growth, the Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS, used in the NAHB calculation), has seriously underestimated the number of US households – and as a result household growth – since a revision in methodology in 2003.  The HVS’s average annual estimate of household growth since 2007 of 550-600,000 contrasts with the American Community Survey’s (ACS) estimate of 700-800,000 new households annually and the higher Current Population Survey (CPS) growth numbers of over 1 million new households annually since 2010. Without agreement on actual levels of household growth since 2007, it is quite impossible to gauge the shortfall in growth, and therefore the probable level of pent-up demand.


Notes: 2013 ACS not available.  2010-2013 growth for the ACS a two-year average of 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 data.


The method used to estimate the “normal” level of household growth also matters. The NAHB number was based on a simple difference between “actual” household growth estimates for the 2007-2010 period, and a straight line trending of HVS household growth prior to 2007. Over the very short run this approach may be appropriate, but would not be expected to hold up over a longer period.


Kolko’s calculations are more sophisticated. Using CPS data, he computes the change in age-specific headship rates (the share of persons in an age group that head an independent household) from the average 2000-07 pre-recession levels. This change, when multiplied by the official annual population estimates for each year, gives the deficit in number of household formations in each age group due to changes in the propensity to form households. This method corrects for the effects on household formation of simple changes in the size and age structure of the adult population, which the NAHB method does not take into account. But what Kolko’s calculation does not control for is the increasing share of minorities in the population. And since Hispanics and Asians have lower headship rates than non-Hispanic whites this oversight is not trivial (Figure 2). In fact, a certain amount of the decline in household formation is due to the changing race/Hispanic origin composition of the population and not to the recent economic downturn.


This issue is exacerbated by an undercounting of growth in Hispanics and Asians over the past decade, as revealed by the results of the 2010 Census. The underestimating of Hispanic and Asian shares of the population in the CPS during the 2000s also means that pre-2010 CPS headship values are biased upward by overcounting the white share, due to incorrect population weights in the CPS survey, making the 2000-2007 benchmark headship rates too high, and exaggerating the decline in age-specific headship pre-versus-post recession.


Even controlling for both age and race/Hispanic origin in the different surveys, we know that household formations have slowed relative to pre-recession levels, we just do not know by how much given concerns just discussed. We also know that the slowdown is likely a consequence of the recession. But, we are uncertain about whether the reduced level of household formation has been primarily driven by economic factors, or whether it is the result of more fundamental changes in attitudes and behavior regarding independent living by today’s young adults that might be partly recession-driven, but may also have deeper roots.


Lower rates of labor force participation, lower incomes of those in the labor force, rising rents, greater student loan debt and tight mortgage lending conditions are economic factors that could partly explain low levels of independent household formation. But we do not know whether these effects are likely to be short-term or long-term as an improving economy and governmental initiatives could reverse many of these factors quite quickly.


But trends in college and graduate school enrollment, the structure of the labor force, the timing of marriage and childbearing, and attitudes about co-residence might lead millennials to form independent households according to a different timetable than the generations that preceded them, regardless of economic conditions. Going back to school for retraining is becoming increasingly necessary for technology oriented jobs in a rapidly changing economy. Employment in start-ups, freelance work, and spells of temporarily working long hours in different jobs and on various projects, followed by periods of downtime, are increasingly common. The timing and sequence of important life-course decisions such as co-habitation, marriage, and childbearing have become more fluid. Intergenerational interdependency at various life-course stages has also changed, with parents playing a larger role in financially supporting their children as young adults, in helping to raise grandchildren, and in opening their homes for spells of co-residence when their children ask. These factors may have inertia that will make them less responsive to economic changes.

Source: Joint Center tabulations of CPS data.  Average of 2011, 2012 and 2013 values.


And even if market forces are the primary reasons for depressed rates of household formation, geographic variations in job and income growth and housing costs and availability mean that the magnitude and pace with which pent-up household formation is released should vary in different parts of the country. For all these reasons calculations about the extent of pent-up demand for housing and speculation about its causes, when demand will be released, and what kind of housing will be required to meet future demand are fraught with uncertainties. The latest Joint Center household projections hold household formation rates constant at average 2011-2013 levels, making no allowance for the future release of pent-up demand, and should therefore be considered conservative.


Leave a comment

Filed under JCHS

CR: Understanding the Existing Home Sales Report

Understanding the Existing Home Sales Report

by Bill McBride on 1/23/2013  

The reporting on the Existing Home sales report was pretty negative yesterday even though I thought it was a solid report. And some of the positive reports were about prices – the NAR reported “The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $180,800 in December, which is 11.5 percent above December 2011” – and I completely ignore the median price.  What gives?

First, on prices, the median is impacted by the mix, and the mix changed in 2012 with fewer low end foreclosures.  I think the median price should be ignored during periods when the mix is changing (with all the repeat sales indexes available, I mostly ignore median prices all the time).

And on sales, the lead for many articles was that seasonally adjusted sales declined in December compared to November, and that sales were below the consensus forecast.   There were some suggestions that this called into question the “housing recovery”.   Nonsense.

What is a “housing recovery”?  There are really two recoveries: House prices and residential investment.  Most people – homeowners and potential buyers – focus on prices, and for prices we should use the repeat sales indexes, and not the NAR median price (repeat sales indexes include Case-Shiller, CoreLogic, etc).  What matters in the NAR report for prices is inventory and months-of-supply.  And inventory is at the lowest level since January 2001, and months-of-supply fell to 4.4 months – the lowest since May 2005.

But for GDP and jobs, the key is what the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) calls “residential investment” (RI) .  For existing homes, only the broker’s commission is part of GDP, but for new homes the entire sales price is part of GDP.  There are some spillover effects from home sales (furniture, landscapting, etc), but those aren’t included in RI.

Residential Investment ComponentsClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the components for RI as a percent of GDP. According to the BEA, RI includes new single family structures, multifamily structures, home improvement, broker’s commissions, and a few minor categories (dormitories, manufactured homes).

Usually the most important components are investment in single family structures followed by home improvement.

Right now home improvement is the largest category, but new single family structures will be the largest component soon.  Broker’s commissions is usually the third largest category and is relatively small compared to single family investment and home improvement.

So if existing home sales decline there is a minor impact on RI and GDP.  When we talk about the “housing recovery” for jobs and GDP, existing home sales are mostly irrelevant – the focus should be on new home sales, housing starts and home improvement.

On home improvement, from the NAHB: Remodeling Market Remains Strong in the Fourth Quarter

The Remodeling Market Index (RMI) reached 55 in the fourth quarter of 2012, increasing five points from the previous quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). This is the highest reading since the first quarter 2004.

An RMI above 50 indicates that more remodelers report market activity is higher (compared to the prior quarter) than report it is lower. The overall RMI averages ratings of current remodeling activity with indicators of future remodeling activity.

“Remodelers are optimistic about the outlook for slow and steady market growth in the new year,” said 2013 NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bill Shaw, GMR, GMB, CGP, a remodeler from Houston. “Professional remodelers reported more work from large and small projects as well as overall home repair.”

Finally, as I mentioned yesterday, as the number of distressed sales decline, the number of total sales might decline too – but we need to look at the number of conventional sales – and conventional sales have been increasing.  That is probably a sign of a healing market.

I don’t expect much of an increase in existing home sales in 2013, and I wouldn’t be surprised by a decline depending on the number of foreclosures this year. But I think the housing recovery will remain fairly strong with new home sales and housing starts up sharply again this year.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/01/understanding-existing-home-sales-report.html#8L4G2HQkf3Tf4D2h.99

Leave a comment

Filed under Home Sales

Latest Study Shows Average Buyer Expected to Stay in a Home 13 Years

Latest Study Shows Average Buyer Expected to Stay in a Home 13 Years

from Eye on Housing by Paul Emrath

recent article  published by NAHB shows that, based on a long-run calculation that averages mobility tendencies over a number of years, the typical buyer of a single-family home can be expected to stay in the home approximately 13 years before moving out.

This work updates a previous article that used data from the American Housing Survey (funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducted in odd-numbered years by the Census Bureau) through 2007.   The new study incorporates AHS data through 2011.

The mobility tendencies observed in the 2011 data imply that the expected length of stay in an owner-occupied, single-family home would be about 16 years (the time it would take half of single-family buyers to move out).  However, 2011 is likely to be an atypical year, so the article repeats the analysis using mobility tendencies observable in earlier years, with results as shown in the figure below.

Length chart for blog

If a single estimate is needed for how long buyers who move in today or in the near future can be expected to remain in their homes, the article recommends 13 years, based on the rounded average across all data points shown in the figure.

The article also shows that, over the 1987-2011 period, the expected length of stay in a single-family home has been consistently longer for trade-up buyers than for first-time buyers.   Averaged over those years, the expected length of stay in a single-family home is about 11 and a half years for first-time buyers, compared to 15 years for buyers who have owned a home before.

For more details, see the full article “Latest Calculations Show Average Buyer Expected to Stay in a Home 13 Years” published as the January 2013 Special Study in NAHB’s HousingEconomics.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Housing

Read of the Day: NAHB: Builder Confidence in the 55+ Housing Market Increases in Q3

NAHB: Builder Confidence in the 55+ Housing Market Increases in Q3

by Bill McBride on 11/08/2012 

This is a quarterly index from the the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and is similar to the overall housing market index (HMI). The NAHB started this index in Q4 2008, so all readings are very low.

From the NAHB: Builder Confidence in the 55+ Housing Market Continues to Improve in the Third Quarter

Builder confidence in the 55+ housing market for single-family homes showed significant improvement in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) latest 55+ Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. The index more than tripled year over year from a level of 12 to 36, which is the highest third-quarter reading since the inception of the index in 2008.

The 55+ multifamily condo HMI had a significant increase of 13 points to 23, which is the highest third-quarter reading since the inception of the index in 2008; however, condos remain the weakest segment of the 55+ housing market. All 55+ multifamily HMI components increased considerably compared to a year ago as present sales rose 13 points to 22, expected sales for the next six months jumped 19 points to 29 and traffic of prospective buyers climbed 11 points to 22.

“Like other segments of the housing industry, the market for 55+ housing is continuing on a steady upward path, driven by improving conditions in additional markets around some parts of the country” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe “While we expect the upward trend to continue as the recovery broadens, the speed of the recovery is being constrained by factors as tight mortgage credit, making it difficult for potential 55+ customers to sell their current homes, and shortages of inputs to construction such as buildable lots that are beginning to emerge in some market areas.”

HMI and Starts CorrelationClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the NAHB 55+ HMI through Q3 2012. All of the readings are very low for this index, but there has been a fairly sharp increase over the last year.

This is going to be a key demographic for household formation over the next couple of decades – if the baby boomers can sell their current homes!

There are two key drivers: 1) there is a large cohort moving into the 55+ group, and 2) the homeownership rate typically increases for people in the 55 to 70 year old age group.

HMI and Starts CorrelationThe second graph shows the homeownership rate by age for 1990, 2000, and 2010. This shows that the homeownership rate usually increases until 70 years old or so.

So demographics should be favorable for the 55+ market – if these people can sell their current homes.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2012/11/nahb-builder-confidence-in-55-housing.html#oe9OfwdTSxyO85R8.99

Leave a comment

Filed under Housing

The Geographic Distribution of Households with Nonrelatives

The Geographic Distribution of Households with Nonrelatives

by Robert Dietz — Eye on Housing

A component of pent-up housing demand is the situation of collapsed households — individuals who reside with another household. From a data perspective, we can identify some of these households by estimating the number of housing units that contain individuals who are not related to each other. This is just a part of pent-up demand of course, as it excludes adult children who live with parents or other relatives.

NAHB has previously estimated that pent-up housing demand totals about 2.1 million potential households. The Census Bureau calculated a similar number, reaching 1.9 million households who are “doubled up.” And a recent Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland study puts the number at 2.6 million potential households.

Data from the 2010 American Community Survey allow us to map the geographic distribution of the households with nonrelatives. The shares of such households are highest in states along the coasts and lowest in the South.

The state with the highest share is Nevada, at 16.4%, followed by Hawaii( 15.5%) and California (15.3%).

The state with the lowest share is Alabama at 8.8%, with both Mississippi (9.8%) and Arkansas (9.8%) at less than 10%.

While these data are likely influenced by recent events in the housing markets, they also reflect cultural differences among the states. Households with nonrelatives includes homes occupied by the decidedly unromantic classification of “cohabitating partners.” This may be a more common practice along the West Coast and the Northeast than in parts of the South.

Excluding such couples, yields “shared households,” but unfortunately the ACS data do not allow an easy mapping of that population group, which has been growing as a direct result of the Great Recession.

Leave a comment

Filed under Housing

Home Builder Confidence Reaches Five-Year High

Eye on the Economy: Home Builder Confidence Reaches Five-Year High

by David Crowe — Eye on Housing 

*Eye on the Economy is an NAHB newsletter that is published every two weeks and takes a larger view of recent economic and housing policy news.

Recent economic data indicate that the overall economy has entered a slow growth period. Nonetheless, during this period economic indicators have generally suggested that housing, and home building in particular, is an important source of economic growth. The question is whether the building recovery in housing will be affected by the slowing of the rest of the economy. In general, while NAHB expects occasional ups and downs for housing, the forecast calls for continued improvement for housing markets.

Housing starts data for the month of July offer a good illustration.Construction of new homes slowed slightly in July to an annual rate of 746,000, down 1.1% from the revised June rate of 754,000, which was a seven-year high. The decline was concentrated in the single-family sector where starts fell 6.5% to an annual rate of 502,000, again down from an elevated rate of 537,000 in June, which was the highest since the end of the home buyer tax credit in 2010.

However, the decline in single-family starts is more likely an adjustment to a very healthy June rate, than it is a sign that the budding housing revival is in trouble. NAHB expects the annual rate of housing starts in the third quarter to be 765,000 or about a 15% increase over the third quarter of 2011.

Recent survey data of single-family home builders provide supporting evidence. The August NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) reached a five-year high of 37, with all three components (present conditions, six-month forward-looking conditions and prospective traffic of buyers) of the index at similar highs. The expectation component of the index increased to 44, the highest since March 2007 when it was at 50, a level where equal numbers of builders foresee a good market as see a poor market.

Similarly, the NAHB’s 55+ HMI survey, which reports builder confidence in the market for new 55+ single-family homes, increased significantly in the second quarter of 2012. Compared to the same period a year ago, the 55+HMI has more than doubled from 13 to 29. The present sales measure more than doubled, while both the components for expected sales for the next six months and traffic of prospective buyers rose.

The survey results suggest buyers are returning to the 55+ housing market as home prices begin to improve, helping to unlock some of the pent-up demand from 55+ consumers. Additionally, the 55+ multifamily rental indices recovered substantially last year, and are now holding steady.

While single-family starts were down in July, multifamily construction continues to expand. Housing starts of units in buildings with five or more apartments came in at 229,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate, up 9.6% from the revised figure for June. The three-month moving average has been very stable, hovering between 205,000 and 210,000 for the past quarter. On a year-over-year basis, housing starts for 5+ units are up strongly, 30% since July of 2011.

Existing home sales increased 2.3% from June, and are up 10.4% from the same period a year ago. The National Association of Realtors reported July 2012 total existing home sales were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.47 million combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. That compares to 4.05 million units from the same period a year ago.

The total housing inventory at the end of July increased 1.3% from the previous month to 2.4 million existing homes for sale. At the current sales rate, the July 2012 inventory represents a 6.4-month supply which is down from a 6.5-month supply in June, and very much improved from the 9.3-month supply of homes a year ago.

Supporting economic conditions for housing continue to be mixed however, offering both good and bad news. For example, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) fell slightly in the second quarter of 2012, down to 73.8, from the all-time record high of 77.5 recorded in the first quarter of the year. Firming home prices in most metro areas – in general, a good thing for the economy– contributed to the small decline in affordability. The HOI is the share of new and existing homes sold in a quarter affordable to a family earning the median income.  An HOI of 73.8 means that 73.8% of all homes sold during the second quarter were affordable to families earning national median income ($65,000).

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Delinquency Survey revealed a surprising increase in the seasonally adjusted delinquency rate during the second quarter of 2012. The total share of first-lien residential mortgages with past due payments increased 18 basis points to 7.58%. In addition, all three delinquency buckets registered increases compared to the first quarter, with the largest quarter-to-quarter jump occurring among loans 90+ days past due (3.06% up to 3.19%).

Foreclosure starts were unchanged or lower compared to the first quarter of 2012 in 31 states, but a handful of states registered very large quarter-to-quarter increases in foreclosure actions. In total, five states (Florida, California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey) account for just above half of the nation’s foreclosure inventory, but represent less than 32% of all serviced loans in the U.S.

Inflation remains in check. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported thatthe Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) held steady in July. Overall, the CPI-U has remained either unchanged or declined in each of the last four months. Energy prices slipped 0.3% in July, putting more downward pressure on topline CPI.  The next couple months of readings on overall CPI will likely be stronger, however, as gasoline and natural gas prices have surged in recent weeks.

The shelter index, which serves as a rough measure of overall housing costs, rose for the 28th consecutive month; however, each of those increases have been modest (including the 0.1% gain in June), leaving the shelter index only 2.1% above its year-ago level. To more closely assess trends in rental housing costs, NAHB constructs a real rent index from the CPI for rent of primary residences and overall CPI. This metric has registered four consecutive month-to-month increases, with the latest gain coming in at 3.3% on an annualized basis.

Finally, NAHB economists examined issues related to the age of the housing stock, and its implications for future demand for both remodeling and new home construction. One analysis took a look at the quality of insulation, as reported by households. The survey findings indicate that overall, nearly 39% of occupants of single-family homes consider their homes well insulated. Households reporting the highest level of satisfaction with the insulation of their homes were those who occupied homes built after 2004, for whom 67% reported that their home was well insulated.

Related to these research findings, another analysis examined the geographic distribution of the median age of the housing stock.For the typical housing unit, the oldest homes are found in the Northeast. With the exception of the District of Columbia, the state with the highest median age is New York, at 57 years.  Rhode Island is next at 56. The newest housing is present in the southern parts of the nation, where population growth has been the highest in recent decades.

Leave a comment

Filed under Builder Confidence Index

Remodeling Market Index Adjusts Downward in Second Quarter

Remodeling Market Index Adjusts Downward in Second Quarter

by Paul Emrath — Eye on Housing

NAHB’s Remodeling Market Index (RMI) slipped under pressure from a softening labor market, dropping two points to 45 in the second quarter of 2012. The downward adjustment comes after the RMI reached 48 twice in 2011, the highest reading since 2006.

The RMI is based on a quarterly survey of NAHB remodelers that asks them to rate current remodeling activity along with indicators of future activity, like calls for bids. An RMI below 50 indicates that more remodelers report market activity is lower (compared to the prior quarter) than report it is higher.

In the second quarter, the RMI component measuring current market conditions dropped to 46 from 49 in the previous quarter.

Current conditions for maintenance and repair and minor additions and alterations remained relatively strong in the second quarter.  The weakest part of the market continues to be major additions and alterations (jobs valued at $25,000 or more).  Larger projects are especially likely to be constrained by continuing tight credit conditions and inaccurate appraisals that make customer financing difficult.

Meanwhile, the RMI component measuring future indicators of remodeling business remained unchanged at 44, as declines in calls for bids (from 47 to 44) and appointments for proposals (from 45 to 42) were offset by increases in the backlog of jobs (from 43 to 46) and amount of work committed for the next three months (from 42 to 43).

For more detail on all RMI components and subcomponents, along with their history, see NAHB’s RMI web page:http://www.nahb.org/reference_list.aspx?sectionID=136

Leave a comment

Filed under Remodeling Market Index