Multifamily Builder and Developer Confidence Edged Down Slightly in Second Quarter

Confidence in the multifamily housing market edged down in the second quarter of 2018, according to the Multifamily Production Index (MPI) released today by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The MPI dipped two points to 51 compared to the previous quarter.

The MPI measures builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condo market on a scale of 0 to 100. The index and all of its components are scaled so that a number above 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are improving than report conditions are getting worse.

The MPI is a weighted average of three key elements of the multifamily housing market: construction of low-rent units—apartments that are supported by low-income tax credits or other government subsidy programs; market-rate rental units—apartments that are built to be rented at the price the market will hold; and for-sale units—condominiums. The component measuring low-rent units rose three points to 57, while the component measuring market rate rental units fell six points to 50 and the component measuring for-sale units dropped three points to 46.

The Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI), which measures the multifamily housing industry’s perception of vacancies, rose three points to 45. The MVI is a weighted average of current occupancy indexes for class A, B, and C multifamily units, and can vary from 0 to 100, where any number over 50 indicates more property managers report more vacant apartments. Although the MPI increased in the second quarter, a reading of 45 is still seen as a healthy number for the multifamily market.

“Multifamily builders and developers are seeing strong demand, but there are headwinds that have impacted further development,” said Steve Lawson, president of The Lawson Companies in Virginia Beach, Va., and chairman of NAHB’s Multifamily Council. “Some developers have had difficulty getting projects off the ground due to regulatory burdens and neighborhood opposition in certain parts of the country.”

“Although the MPI is down two points in the second quarter, it is still above 50, reflecting a solid number of multifamily starts so far this year,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “In addition to regulatory costs, developers still need to monitor the impact of tariffs and the threat of further trade restrictions on building materials prices, especially lumber.”

Historically, the MPI and MVI have performed well as leading indicators of U.S. Census figures for multifamily starts and vacancy rates, providing information on likely movement in the Census figures one to three quarters in advance.

For data tables on the MPI and MVI, visit www.nahb.org/mms.

For more information on the NAHB Multifamily program, please visit NAHB Multifamily: https://www.nahb.org/en/members/committees-and-councils/councils/multifamily-council/nahb-multifamily.aspx.

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New Home Sales Edge Down 1.7 Percent in July

Sales of newly built, single-family homes inched down 1.7
percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 627,000 units after an upwardly
revised June report, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. On a year-to-date basis, sales are up
7.2 percent from this time last year.

“A lack of overall housing inventory is pushing up home prices, which is hurting
affordability and causing prospective buyers to delay making a home purchase,” said Randy
Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a custom home
builder from LaPlace, La.

“Although this month marks the lowest sales pace since last October, we continue to see
solid housing demand due to economic strengthening and positive demographic tailwinds,”
said NAHB Senior Economist Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington. “Builders need to manage
rising construction costs to keep their homes competitively priced for the newcomers to
the housing market.”

A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home
can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed. In
addition to adjusting for seasonal effects, the July reading of 627,000 units is the number of
homes that would sell if this pace continued for the next 12 months.

The inventory of new homes for sale was 309,000 in July, which is a 5.9-month supply at
the current sales pace. The median sales price rose to $328,700.

Regionally, new home sales rose 10.9 percent in the West and 9.9 percent in the Midwest.
Sales fell 3.3 percent in the South and 52.3 percent in the Northeast. Year-to-date, sales in
the Northeast are down 14.5 percent as that region deals with impacts from tax reform and
persistent affordability issues.

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International Builders’ Show and Kitchen & Bath Industry Show Extend Co-Location Agreement for Design & Construction Week

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) today announced an agreement to extend the co-location of the NAHB International Builders’ Show® (IBS) and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), known as Design & Construction Week® (DCW). The new six-year agreement will begin in 2020 and will run through the 2026 shows.

Created by the two associations in 2014, DCW has become the banner industry event focused on new ideas, products and technologies to design, build and remodel homes. While IBS and KBIS remain two separate and distinct shows, the combined shows host more than 2,000 exhibiting brands spanning over a million net square feet of exhibit space, making DCW the largest annual gathering of the residential design and construction industry. One pass provides attendee access to both shows.

“We have seen extraordinary growth and success of Design & Construction Week over the past few years,” said NAHB CEO Jerry Howard. “There is a natural synergy between our two organizations, and it just made sense to bring our two shows together to create a mega-event, giving show attendees the added benefit of having access to anything and everything housing related in one place. We are thrilled to continue this relationship and build upon this success into the next decade.”

“NKBA is proud to continue our partnership with NAHB, creating this tremendous opportunity that benefits members of both associations as well as the industry in general,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO. “The kitchen and bath industry, as well as overall residential design, building and remodeling, are vibrant, as is evidenced by the robust growth of both shows since our co-location. This represents a vital component of the American economy, and together, we play a critical role in keeping businesses in this segment strong and on solid footing.”

IBS is the largest annual light construction show in the world. Building industry professionals from across the world attend to see the latest products and services from more than 1,500 exhibitors representing top housing-related companies, attend cutting-edge education sessions, visit show homes featuring the latest trends and innovations, and network with peers. Now in its 75th year, IBS is produced and managed exclusively by NAHB.

The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) is the premier industry event dedicated to all aspects of kitchen and bath design. With an expansive show floor filled with the freshest designs from over 600 leading brands, North America’s largest kitchen and bath trade show delivers attendees and exhibitors the ultimate destination to network, exchange ideas and build their businesses. KBIS is operated by Emerald Expositions, the largest operator of business-to-business trade shows in the United States.

The extended DCW agreement includes the 2021-2022 shows in Orlando, Fla., at the Orange County Convention Center, the 2023-2025 shows in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and then returning in 2026 to Orlando.

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Housing Starts Hold Their Ground in July

Total housing starts inched up 0.9 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million units, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department.

The July reading of 1.17 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts held firm, up 0.9 percent to 862,000 units. Meanwhile, the multifamily sector—which includes apartment buildings and condos—rose 3 percent to 306,000.

“Builder confidence remains solid, although it has fallen back somewhat in recent months due to rising construction costs in 2018, including lumber,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, La. “As builders grapple with higher costs, one positive development is that lumber prices have shown signs of easing the past two months off their record high levels posted in June.”

Some projects are experiencing construction start delays due to cost concerns, with the number of single-family units authorized but not started up 25 percent since July 2017.

“Supply-side challenges including increases in material prices and chronic labor shortages are affecting affordability in many markets,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, consumer demand remains strong due to a growing economy and job market and favorable demographics. Moreover, on a year-to-date basis, single-family construction has shown steady progress, up 7.2 percent, while 5+ multifamily production is up 3.4 percent as well.”

Regionally, combined single- and multifamily housing starts in July rose 11.6 percent in the Midwest and 10.4 percent in the South. Starts fell 4 percent in the Northeast and posted a 19.6 percent decline in the West due to affordability constraints in the coastal markets.

Overall permits, which are often a harbinger of future housing production, rose 1.5 percent to 1.31 million units in July. Single-family permits posted a modest gain of 1.9 percent to 869,000. Multifamily permits were relatively unchanged, up 1.7 percent to 410,000.

Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 5.9 percent in the Northeast, 5.8 percent in the Midwest and 1.2 percent in the West. Permits edged 0.3 percent lower in the South.

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