What Ails Housing Starts

August housing starts, reported today, were disappointing at 956,000 units, a drop of 14.4% from July and 8% from August last year. Only twice this year have monthly reports of housing starts topped a million units at annual rates – from 1991 to the financial crisis in 2008, starts were never below one million.  To a large extent building houses hasn’t recovered from the financial crisis. If one uses the average number of houses started from 1995 through 2004 as a pre-boom-bust normal measure, housing starts in August were 59% of the normal level.

The details suggest there is much more to the story. Single family homes started in August were 50% of the normal rate while multi-family homes (apartments) were at 94% of the normal pace. The chart shows that there was a change in the shares of single family homes and apartments.  The single family share (in blue) dropped beginning in 2007, rebounded briefly in 2009 when the government provided tax benefits to first time home buyers and then fell from 2010 on.


Source: Bureau of the Census

Source: Bureau of the Census

What happened to keep people in apartments?  Renters who decided not to become home buyers are a part of the story.  The New York Fed (click here) provides an analysis of why people are renting rather switching to being home-owners.  First time home buyers account for 30% to 50% of home sales. The principal answers, in the chart from the New York Fed, are not enough money, too much debt or credit isn’t good enough.  The damage of the financial crisis is still with us.  Mortgage rates and home prices are barely mentioned.  Moreover, both renters and home owners expect moderate increases the home prices, enough to stay a bit ahead of inflation. About 60% believe owning a home is a good or very good investment; another 29% are neutral on investment value; with little difference between renters and home owners.  The idea that the financial crisis relief should have focused more people in debt may make sense.

Affordable Multifamily Housing Hot Topics Event

Please save Wednesday, October 8, for Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services’ Affordable Multifamily Housing Hot Topics Event in San Francisco. Senior credit analysts from S&P Ratings’ Housing Enterprises and Structured Securities group will discuss mortgage finance and housing industry trends. Register Today. This event will precede the Novogradac Affordable Housing Conference on October 9-10 in […]

How the Cities Did in June 2014

Widespread Slowdown in Home Price Gains According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Data through June 2014 show a sustained slowdown in price increases. The National Index gained 6.2% in the 12 months ending June 2014 while the 10-City and 20-City Composites gained 8.1%; all three indices saw their rates slow considerably from last month. Every city saw its year-over-year return worsen. S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices ─ June […]

All Cash and Institutional Investor Shares of Home Sales Drop

RealtyTrac® released its Q2 2014 U.S. Institutional Investor & Cash Sales Report, showing all-cash sales accounted for 37.9% of all sales of single family homes and condos nationwide in the second quarter, down from a three-year high of 42.0% in the previous quarter but up from 35.7% in a year ago. The report also shows […]

National Credit Default Rates Remain at Historical Lows in July 2014 According to the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices released the latest results for the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices. Data is through July 2014.  S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices Press Release – August 2014.

U.S. Forecast Update: High Anxiety

Although the sizable jump in U.S. GDP growth in the second quarter helped allay Wall Street worries, Main Street is still jittery. According to the August WSJ/NBC Poll, 71% of American adults think the country is on the wrong track (up from 63% in June) and that the economic problems facing the U.S. are mostly […]

Foreclosure Activity Rises 2% in July, Down 16% Year-over-Year

RealtyTrac® reported today that there were foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — in July 2014 on 109,434 U.S. properties, an increase of 2% from the previous month but down 16% from a year ago. One in every 1,203 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month. July was […]

U.S. Weekly Economic Roundup: Positivity Continues

Productivity rose 2.5% in the second quarter, consistent with a soundly growing economy but not reflective of the very strong GDP growth that characterized the second quarter. On a year-over-year basis, productivity is up 1.2%, consistent with only lukewarm economic growth. Manufacturing productivity growth was solid, while service-sector productivity growth was not so. Unit labor […]

How the Cities Did in May 2014

  Click on table for larger image


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