Tag Archives: Real estate economics

Is the new kind of real estate investor to blame for the falling home ownership rate?

Is the new kind of real estate investor to blame for the falling home ownership rate? The current data on investor purchases, home ownership, and all cash purchases.

One piece of housing information that warrants a deeper analysis is the continually falling home ownership rate.  Since the recession hit over 5,000,000 Americans have gone through the process of foreclosure.  Yet for over a year now, the housing market has been recovering with lower interest rates, higher home prices, and a record low amount of inventory.  Yet even on the national inventory front, it does look like some pressure is being released on this end.  US housing starts are bouncing from the bottom and this will add much needed relief on the inventory side.  However, this doesn’t answer why the home ownership rate has fallen so hard.  Trying to explain the dichotomies in the housing market is like trying to wrap your head around dark matter.  Sure, those that went through a foreclosure are likely now in rental housing.  But as foreclosures become a smaller part of the market, why does the rate continue to fall like dominoes falling over one another with momentum?  And the term “investor” has definitely shifted in the last few years.  Let us take a look at the overall trends first.

The shift in investors

The peak year in home sales was in 2005 when over 8,000,000 new and existing home sales took place:

Home Sales By Type of Sale

Keep in mind the above focuses on transactions.  It was the case that some homes were being sold multiple times in one year given how hot the market was and how easy it was to get a loan (this applies to 2003 through 2007).  But look at the amount of investment purchases in 2005 (over 2,000,000).  Even in 2012 when investors essentially dominated the market, it was about 1,000,000.  So why does it feel like investors are more dominant today?  First the amount of supply is low:

month supply of homes

Months of housing supply is still near record lows (at 4 months of inventory).  Yet overall sales are definitely picking up reaching 5,000,000 in 2012 and we are on pace for 5.4 to 5.6 million this year combining existing and new home sales.  So why is the home ownership rate still falling?  There are a few reasons:

-Shift in investors:  Many prior investors were regular buyers purchasing second homes to either flip or try to rent.  So you had many that had one, two, or more properties but the owner was one person.

-Foreclosures still occurring:  People are still losing their homes.

-One and done transactions:  Many of the modern day investors are big hedge funds.  So you have one large entity owning 100, 500, 2000, or even more properties under one name.

I think the last item is probably the big difference here.  The shift to all cash purchases shows big money has moved strongly into the rental business.  Some of the big investors are looking at buy and hold strategies that will keep inventory off the market for a few years versus the buy and flip investors from the last housing boom.

When you buy 1000 properties, you don’t have it under individual names.  It is registered likely under one entity.  This is adding to the change.  But also, a larger portion of Americans are renting because of their financial situation or because of a change in preferences.  Many younger Americans are still trying to find their footing in this economy and many carry mountains of student debt.  It will be interesting to see if younger Americans carry similar desires of home ownership as the previous generation.

The all cash buyers

Another big point is the investors of the last boom did not have the capital to buy their investments.  In fact, most were leveraging all the way.  Although the last boom obviously saw more investor action, it was more of the mom and pop variety.  We can see this with the all cash purchase activity:

all cash buyers

Notice that in 2005, the peak of “investor” buying, all cash purchases were rather low in highly speculative markets.  Orlando was below 10 percent in 2005 but in 2010, 2011, and 2012 the rate was above 50 percent for all cash purchases.  You can see the boom of all cash investors.  In Southern California, the figure has been above 30 percent for a couple of years now.

This is why you have an increase in home sales yet the overall home ownership rate continues to look like this:

homeownership rate

There are a few reasons for the drop but it is clear that bulk buying of properties from Wall Street for renting purposes has caused supply to drop, prices to increase, and the home ownership rate for Americans to drop.  As someone mentioned in an e-mail, what use is a great mortgage rate when investors are outbidding and overbidding regular buyers?  We are now five months into the year and the trend continues to move on.  We are seeing a shift in inventory nationwide and also, some larger investors are losing their appetite as yields get squeezed.  However, housing starts have picked up significantly since the bottom:

ushousing starts

This is crucial given the very low level of inventory.  However housing starts are a leading indicator here because it will take some time before this inventory hits the market.  I think the above information does add some clarity as to why the home ownership rate continues to decline in spite of rising home sales, higher home prices, and what appears to be another boom in the housing market.

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PIMCO: The U.S. Housing Market’s Road to Recovery: Slower Speed Limits and Stricter Enforcement

The U.S. Housing Market’s Road to Recovery: Slower Speed Limits and Stricter Enforcement

Michael CudzilDaniel H. Hyman

Picture a six-lane highway with roughly 110 million cars. The posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour, but there is not a police officer in sight. Since there have not been any major accidents in years, it is common practice to travel at 90 miles to 100 miles per hour, and insurance companies are lowering their premiums – often regardless of the state of the cars.

That describes the U.S. mortgage market from 2003 to 2006. The story ended exactly as you would imagine: a massive accident with severe repercussions not just for housing, but also for the financial system and the global economy.
Today, the six-lane highway has been reduced to three lanes, as origination capacity has been halved. One is a fast-pass lane for customers who have been sitting in traffic the past couple of years and are now being rewarded for good behavior with access to historically low mortgage rates: the HARP lane. (The Home Affordable Refinance Program helps homeowners refinance who are underwater or near-underwater but current on their mortgages.) But for everyone else, the speed limit has been reregulated to 35 miles per hour. There are police officers at every mile marker, and the insurance companies are charging much higher premiums.
Where do we go from here?
Despite fewer lanes on the mortgage highway, we believe the U.S. housing market has bottomed and is showing clear signs of a gradual and broadening recovery. The upward trajectory of housing prices should continue at a moderate pace. Over the past 100 years, housing has appreciated at roughly the rate of inflation. It is only in the past 10 years that housing has traded with substantial volatility due to leverage and “affordability” products. We believe the tailwinds are in place for an 8%–12% appreciation in housing over the next two years. Over the longer term, we expect a return to historical normal performance for housing relative to the rate of inflation.
We consider several dynamics in developing our outlook on housing: household formation, inventories, affordability and access to credit and lending.

Read More …

 
Conclusion
We remain constructive on the state of the housing market but recognize the road is far from smooth.
On balance, we believe the positives outweigh the negatives and look for housing to appreciate 8%–12% over the next two years. Housing should have positive influences on consumer confidence and labor mobility.
In terms of investment implications, we believe both agency and non-agency markets offer opportunities to generate excess returns, while active management should be able to add value to structural allocations. Agency mortgage securities offer liquid investments that can be traded against each other as well as against other liquid interest rate markets, specified mortgage pools and, less frequently, structured mortgage products.
Non-agency mortgages continue to offer the best risk-adjusted returns in the sector, but specific security selection will matter much more given their recent high returns. Compared to investing directly in real estate, which requires time to close, lawyers, insurance and transaction costs, non-agency mortgages offer similar returns without the friction. Pairing non-agency mortgages with agency mortgage-backed securities potentially provides an attractive return profile across a wide range of economic outcomes.

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DrHousing: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly aspects of the American housing market

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly aspects of the American housing market: Key indicators of the 2013 real estate market.

The US housing market is massive.  You would expect this from a nation of 315,000,000+ people spanning over 50 states.  So it is important to understand the various dynamics occurring over many states.  In regards to single family home buyers, in most of the United States home prices are very reasonable.  This is hard for some in the coastal regions to digest or even comprehend.  When you look at certain markets in high priced areas, many people have a hard time penciling out the financial details.  Yet with such a large number of investors purchasing with cash, a new market has been created.  But if we are to take the US market and make a wide-eyed observation, we will find some good, bad, and ugly aspects of the current housing market.  Whereas in 2008 through 2010, the market was dominated by the bad, ugly, and grotesque.  What can we say about the current US housing market?

The Good

One good aspect of the market is overall, affordability is back in line to historical trends:

housing affordable

Price-to-rent ratios are back in line in many parts of the country.  In fact, this is the big push from the all cash buyers in places like Arizona, Nevada, and Florida.  The one thing I would be cautious about is in places like Arizona, you have over 50 percent of buyers coming from the investment bunch and when you look at rental prices, they are weak and vacancies are very common.  But with such a high number of investors buying, you basically have investors selling to other investors thinking they will produce higher yields.  However, for non-investors in most US markets prices are now affordable thanks to the big drop in prices but also the Fed’s tantalizingly low interest rates.  Sure, the Fed’s balance sheet is well over $3 trillion but that is an issue for another day.

If you follow the mainstream press and use this as a barometer of what most Americans see as their primary source of information, then the Federal Reserve might as well be nuclear physics because it is never discussed or even explained.  So most people are driven by the monthly nut psychology.  Low rates have boosted affordability dramatically.  Americans are horrible savers.  Something like 50 percent of Americans do not have a retirement account.

I was having a conversation with someone and their mentality is similar to many coastal folks.  “Good luck finding a property in the US for less than $300,000 in a safe area!”  Of course, it is hard for some to understand that in many states, homes can be had for $100,000 in good areas and a $200,000 home will buy you a very nice spot.  Heck, even in the Inland Empire in California you can find a great place for $300,000.  Of course this person is obsessed with buying in prime Pasadena so good luck on that one when you have limited inventory and many other clones with similar thinking.

The Bad

While not as good as it should be, household formation is now picking back up:

household formation

Funny how in 2005 when all you needed was a pulse for credit, household formation was up to a blistering 1.8 million per year.  The crash brought on the “move in with mom, dad, or friends” trend and you can see this in 2008 where household formation was at a stunningly low 400,000.  This is also another reason why the housing market is now picking up nationwide.  From 2011 to 2012 household formation went from around 600,000 to a healthier 1,000,000.  That is a big jump.

The one element I see getting in the way of this is the massive student debt in the market now above $1 trillion.  Many younger Americans are still financially strapped so it is hard to see this improving anytime soon.  Although we are nowhere close to the boom days, household formation does seem to be on an upward trend and this is a positive for housing in general.

The Ugly

The housing market is still a mess when it comes to distressed properties:

bad loans

Over 5,000,000+ Americans are in one of the following:

1,927,000 properties that are 30 or more days, and less than 90 days past due, but not in foreclosure.

1,483,000 properties that are 90 or more days delinquent, but not in foreclosure.

1,694,000 loans in foreclosure process.

The market is full of bad loans but the number is going down.  Many investors buying in bulk have connections that allow them to purchase many of these properties at auction before they even hit the MLS for the regular Joe and Jane.  So the low inventory is simply a manifestation of banks leaking out properties at their own pace and to select individuals.

In most parts of the US, the housing market is fairly normal based on price and financing options.  However, in places like California good luck buying a home when many in the industry think prices will keep going up and bidding wars are now fairly common.  Get your PowerPoint presentation ready and your heart wrenching story (and wallet out) to make a bid in many prime markets.  California is a boom and bust market and we’re currently in the boom phase.  It is interesting how many e-mails I get where the person is actually sad and emotionally troubled that they got out bid on an $800,000 or even $1,000,000 home.  Obviously you can only get so much from an e-mail but some people seem miserable because they can’t spend $1 million on a home!  I got an e-mail like this from someone in San Francisco.  You know what my recommendation was?  Go ahead and buy because you seem absolutely miserable!

For most Americans, the decision to buy is fairly simple in today’s market.  In other markets, there are definite manic like behaviors.  We’re seeing some mania in California.  Buying a home is a big decision yet some are willing to drop $700,000 (i.e., finance 80+ percent of the purchase) and treat this as if they were buying a car. Buying a home is a 30 year commitment for most.  Many sell within 7 to 10 years but that is assuming prices keep going up.  Some that bought in 2005 are still underwater today (8 years later).  You want to know what was going on 30 years ago?  Ronald Reagan was President, we were in the Cold War, The Red Hot Chili Peppers launched their first self-titled album, and a fixed rate mortgage was 13.4 percent.

There are good, bad, and ugly things in today’s housing market.  The scope of each of these really depends on where you live in the US.

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Dr. Housing Bubble Blog: The affair of all cash buyers and real estate

The affair of all cash buyers and real estate: What are normal historical rates for all cash buyers when it comes to the housing market? Has big money peaked when it comes to the housing market?

It is astounding how people brush off an overall weak economy and suddenly justify all cash investors as somehow a normal part of the real estate market.  Once again, we are in uncharted territory.  The amount of all cash buyers is off the charts.  Not only are these Wall Street investors but also foreign money flowing into targeted markets.  It is one thing to push it off but it is another thing to actually look at historical data.  It is amazing how quickly people drink from the fountain of cultural amnesia and suddenly forget the environment that led us into this mess.  This is a fact however; never have we had so much of the real estate market dominated by all cash purchases.  But what is a normal amount?  Let us go ahead and look at historical data here to see what we can find.

All cash purchases hit a record in 2012

It is hard to find nationwide data for the real estate market going back past 2000 but here we have data on four large areas.  It looks like overall, all cash purchases range from 5 to 10 percent:

all-cash-buyers

What is amazing is how crazy some markets have gotten like Phoenix and Orlando where basically investors have become the vast majority of the market.  Much of the price gains in the last year are driven by investors competing for the small lot of inventory regardless of what underlying rental yields will produce.  The Fed of course is luring in buyers with stagnant incomes and low interest rates.  The reality is, households are looking at their balance sheets and are saying “what the heck, rates are low so let us go dive in.”  It is more enticing especially when every headline is now talking about the reemergence of the housing market.

If you think this isn’t the case for California, think again:

California-All-Cash-Real-Estate-Transaction
Source:  CAR, Buildbankroll

It got worse in 2011 and 2012.  In fact, at least for data for Southern California, all cash buying hit a record of 35.8 percent in December (last month it was 35.6).  Last year it was 33.7 percent showing that a large amount of buying in Southern California is coming from the all cash crowd, way higher than historical norms.  And most of these people are not planning on living in these places.  31.4 percent of purchases in SoCal are absentee buyers.  The monthly average dating back to 2000 is around 17 percent.  In other words this is a market dominated by the all cash crowd.  Some would like to pretend like this is normal but it is clearly not.  This is hot money flooding into the market.  If it isn’t big money, it is balance sheet weak buyers going in with FHA insured loans and the tiny 3.5 percent down payment.

Tracking the investor market carefully, you realize that these people do pay attention to incomes and local regional economics.  When you are buying lots of homes, you better make sure the local crowd can cover a certain amount of rents to make yields worthwhile.  There is no Fed incentive to renting so this money has to come from your net income.  In other words, what you actually earn from the real economy instead of flipping homes like burgers.  Signs are already showing a peak in investor buying, at least from the pro crowd:

“(Fortune) While this has gone on for some time, the investor frenzy might have peaked. Rents for single-family homes have essentially flattened — rising just 0.1% in March from a year earlier, according to a report released Thursday by real estate listing website Trulia. What’s more, in some cities where investors had the biggest appetite for properties on the cheap, rents have fallen: Take Los Angeles, where rents fell 1.9%; rents in Orange County slipped down 0.7%; Las Vegas saw a 1.9% drop. And in two other key investor markets — Atlanta and Phoenix — single-family home rents remained flat, rising less than 1%.

Meanwhile, rents for apartments have continued to rise, climbing 2.9% in March from a year earlier.”

So much for rents going up forever and ever even in untouchable Southern California.  The article goes on to point out that “small investors” are now becoming a bigger part of sales.  Yeah, after the massive recent run-up.  Of course it is hard to break out the type of all cash buyer from the 35 percent of purchases in Southern California.  One thing is certain, this market is not normal.  But this market has not been normal since the early 2000s.  Basically you have to ask at what stage or bubble are we currently in?  Does this boom have many years to go?  I think most would feel comfortable if a flood of good paying jobs were coming online at the same time.  Is that even the case?

Prices have surged in the last couple of years especially in certain markets.  Very little supply and investor demand has been a large reason for this.  We’ve discussed that the big question would be what happens to the market when investor demand pulls back?  In SoCal, most investors trying to cash flow have to come in with big cash.  It is funny to hear some all cash buyers saying they are cash flowing on a $500,000 purchase that rents for $2,000 in rent.  Of course!  But you’re basically getting a 4.8 percent return assuming you have no expenses, no property management, no vacancies, and no repairs.  Most professional landlords realize that about 40 to 50 percent of gross rents will go to operating expenses.  In other words, that $2,000 is really like $1,000.  Then that 4.8 percent return turns into 2.4 percent.  Can you see why the pros are pulling back?  By the time the masses get in line the money has already been made.

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PragCap: Your Housing “Recovery” in Charts….

Your Housing “Recovery” in Charts….

02/20/2013

The post Your Housing “Recovery” in Charts…. appeared first on PRAGMATIC CAPITALISM.

I’ve become much more constructive about housing in the last year.  But I still don’t understand the euphoria in some circles.  For the most part, I am still in the camp that says we’re in a post-bubble “work out” period.  That means the big price declines are past us, but the upside remains modest in most markets.

That said, I still don’t see the recovery in the various housing indices that many are raving about.  To me, this looks almost exactly like what I’ve been predicting all along.  A sideways market that is consistent with past bubble experiences.  Think Nasdaq, Shanghai, Gold in the 80s, etc.  In essence, it looks like a big L.

So far, the price action in US housing doesn’t look like anything that unusual for a post-bubble environment and it looks a lot more like a post-bubble “work out” than a recovery to me.  Obviously, I am biased towards believing that my view will be right, but you tell me what the pictures show….

Charts via Orcam Financial Group:

hr1 Your Housing Recovery in Charts....

hr2 Your Housing Recovery in Charts....

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What constitutes a healthy housing market? — Dr. Housing Bubble

What constitutes a healthy housing market? 7 charts Examining where we are today in the housing market. Will the current housing rebound continue into 2013?

Perceptions are guided by recent events.  History is easily forgotten and our hardwiring makes us prone to trend following.  The housing boom that started in 2012 is still the story today.  In 2012 I noticed on various forums that new housing related shows were on the uptick.  The headlines were largely positive.  It is hard to see how the pace of appreciation can continue without a similar underlying real growth in household wages or a continued flood of investor money.  Yet in markets were investors dominate, local families are outbid by global money and big funds.  What makes up a healthy housing market?  Today we’ll examine seven charts and try to put this current housing market into a longer-term perspective.

Normal housing market

There are many factors to examine when it comes to a normal housing market.  I would argue that it is more important to focus on having a healthy economy and allowing housing to follow instead of focusing on housing and expecting the economy to follow.  For over a decade the focus has been on housing and the Fed with QE3 is not disrupting that trend.  Trulia has an interesting barometer on a few key housing metrics:

normal housng market

Source:  Trulia

According to the above barometer, a normal market would have 1.5 million construction starts.  We are at 861k.  We’re making progress here but still a good distance from 1.5 million.  The next item is existing home sales.  We’re at 5.04 million whereas a more normal market would be at 5.5 million.  On this metric we are inching closer to a more normal market.  The number of mortgages in some sort of distress is up to 10.63 percent.  This is still very high compared to the normal rate of 5.25 percent.

Low inventory

The number of homes for sales is extremely low:

national housing inventory

While existing home sales are still short from a more normal level (not by much) housing inventory on the other hand is down by record levels.  At a certain point you would expect this to carry over into housing starts and we are seeing this occur.

Housing starts

Housing starts are definitely on their way up.  This should be expected given the very low inventory.  Yet as we have discussed in previous articles, many younger Americans are saddled with high levels of college debt and are looking for lower priced housing options.  In 2012 31 percent of housing starts were for multi-unit properties.  Stronger rental demand but also, the new clientele base is likely pushing this trend.

30 year fixed rate mortgage

The drop in interest rates is truly historical:

30 year mortgage rate

People calmly talk about this as if we have a historical reference point for this.  We do not.  The Fed now has a balance sheet that is well over $3 trillion.  This is not normal either:

Fed total balance sheet

Fed’s balance sheet as of 1/16/13 (source: FRB)

Prior to the recession, the Fed balance sheet was well under $1 trillion.  We are a very long way from that and the Fed with QE3 is basically eating up MBS from the market.  It is interesting that some would like to discount this activity yet the Fed is dictating interest rates and is the major player in the mortgage market.  In other words, the Fed is the housing market.

Construction jobs

Now this is a trend that I found interesting.  While housing starts are up, construction jobs are still lagging:

construction jobs

What is going on here?  Is it because multi-unit properties require less labor?  I doubt it.  Are construction crews making due with less?  That could be one reason.  This is probably one of the more interesting trends here.  In this category we are also very far away from a normal market.

China wages

In a global system inflation can be exported.  While US wage growth is anemic and inflation adjusted household income is now back to levels last seen in the 1990s, wage growth in China is definitely occurring:

china and us wages

It should come as no surprise then that money is rushing back into places like California and Canadapropping up prices in select areas.  Foreign demand is incredibly strong as the wealthy class rises abroad.  In an open market, money can travel as it sees fit.  Inflationary pressure is charging back in.

Part-time workers

Another trend we are facing is the growth of a permanent part-time workforce.  Many workers now work under contracts or projects.  This is another reason why we have seen the U6 unemployment figure remain high:

us part-time and U6

This is unlikely to be positive for wage growth but does help companies earn more as they slash costs.  It also makes a tougher case for sustained home value growth.  The last few years have seen a large amount of buying come from investors.  Nearly one third of all sales were investor based.  This is incredibly high.  It is hard to find historical data on a normal figure here but I would venture to guess that it is around the 10 percent range for the nation.  In California, foreign demand makes up this portion alone:

“(OC Register) The National Association of Realtors estimated that foreign buyers accounted for 11 percent of California home sales.

The California Association of Realtors, however, pegged foreign sales at 5.8 percent of the state’s transactions. Of those, 39 percent of the buyers come from China, followed by buyers from Canada (13 percent), and from India and Mexico (8.7 percent each), CAR reported.”

Last month over 33 percent of buyers in Southern California paid all cash for their purchases, tying a previous historical record set a few months ago.  The monthly average since 2000 is closer to 17 percent so we are nearly double that.

The above trends show that we really are in a different housing market today.  Will these trends continue into 2013

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Read of the Day: Merrill Lynch on Housing and Construction Employment

Merrill Lynch on Housing and Construction Employment

by Bill McBride on 12/11/2012  

We are still waiting for a strong increase in construction employment, but we know it is coming (I expect construction employment will be revised up in the annual revision).

Michelle Meyer at Merrill Lynch wrote about this today (and more on housing): The housing market in 2013

We believe 2012 will go down in history as a year of transition for the housing market. Housing starts are on track to be up 25% and home prices are set to rise 5% over 2012. We believe the recovery will continue into 2013 for several reasons. Most importantly, household formation has started to turn higher, reflecting the shortfall of household creation over the prior five years. In addition, listed inventory is low, owing to extraordinarily slow construction and only a gradual reduction of the distressed pipeline. And specifically for prices, there has been a shift toward short sales as a means of disposing distressed properties. Moreover, investor demand is strong, particularly for distressed inventory.

We forecast housing starts to increase another 25% to an average of 975,000 and home prices to increase 3% in 2013.

The housing market is turning into an engine of growth once again. Housing construction will likely add 0.3pp to GDP growth in 2012 and 0.4pp to 2013 growth. … The gain in homebuilding will support related sectors such as furniture, building material sales and financial companies. Moreover, construction jobs will finally come back, allowing some of the 2 million people who lost construction jobs to find employment in the field again.

There will also be a jolt to the economy from the gain in home prices. An increase in home values lifts household net worth and boosts consumer confidence. If consumers perceive the gain in wealth to be permanent, they will increase their current consumption. But the rise in home prices can do something even more vital for the economy – it can spur credit creation, which then fuels housing demand and reinforces the gain in home prices. We are seeing the very early stages of a positive feedback loop between the housing market, credit market and real economy, which can be quite powerful in time.

I’ve wrote about the positive impact of prices early this year, see The economic impact of stabilizing house prices?

We are probably already seeing the impact of stabilizing prices on housing inventory. If potential sellers think prices will fall further, then they will rush to sell and list their homes right away. But if potential sellers think prices are stabilizing, and may even increase, they are more willing to wait for a better market or to sell when it is most convenient. I think we are seeing that right now.

More importantly, I think stabilizing prices will give hope to some “underwater” homeowners and we will probably see mortgage default rates fall quicker. And over time, buyers will gain confidence that prices have stopped falling, and I expect demand to increase – and also for more private lenders to reenter the mortgage market and help support that demand.

And this demand will also boost homebuilding and new home sales – since homebuilders will have a better idea of the pricing needed to compete in a market (falling prices makes it hard to plan).

And on construction employment: Back to work we go

There are several ways that the recovery in the housing market multiplies through the economy. One of the key channels is to create jobs in the construction industry and related fields. However, despite the 25% gain in housing starts this year, the construction sector has not added workers. Looking back at prior cycles, it appears that it is normal for construction jobs to lag output by about a year. We think we are on the verge of construction hiring.

As demand for housing continues to improve, construction companies will likely become more comfortable expanding their workforce. In addition, construction workers do not just focus on new construction; they can also find employment for renovations. Renovation spending has been on the rise and will likely receive a boost from Hurricane Sandy rebuilding. We think the future looks brighter for construction workers.

I also expect a pickup in construction employment in 2013.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2012/12/merrill-lynch-on-housing-and.html#ALyJVyoHjgyg758m.99

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