U.S. Housing Starts Increased More Than Forecast in October

November 23, 2020
Henry Ren - Bloomberg

U.S. new home construction rose in October by more than forecast to the fastest pace since February, highlighting a robust residential real estate market that’s helping spur the economy.

Residential starts increased 4.9% to a 1.53 million annualized rate from an upwardly revised 1.46 million a month earlier, according to a government report released Wednesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 1.46 million pace.

U.S. Existing Home Sales Rise to 14-Year High, Exceed Forecast

November 16, 2020
Reade Pickert - Bloomberg

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose more than expected in September to the highest level in 14 years as a desire for more space and record-low mortgage rates continue to support demand.

Contract closings increased 9.4% from the prior month to an annualized 6.54 million, the fastest pace since May 2006, after a downwardly revised 5.98 million in August, according to National Association of Realtors data released Thursday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 6.3 million rate in September. Single-family home sales outpaced purchases of condominiums.

Homebuyers’ Wallets Hammered as Prices for Plywood Substitute Spike

November 9, 2020
Marcy Nicholson - Bloomberg

Americans are coughing up $4,600 more on average to buy their dream home than six months ago -- thanks to a record run-up in prices for a once-cheap plywood substitute.

Prices are on a tear for those bonded wood-chip sheets commonly used as sheathing for walls, floors and roofs in new home construction. Oriented Strand Board, or OSB, has long been used as a low-cost alternative to plywood, but the product now fetches a higher price as increased demand and tight supplies lead to delivery delays and elevated construction costs in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. Housing Starts Increase Amid Shift to Single-Family Homes

November 2, 2020
Jarrell Dillard - Bloomberg

U.S. new home starts increased in September on a sharp gain in single-family house construction while building permits climbed, indicating residential building had plenty of momentum at the end of the third quarter.

Residential starts increased 1.9% to a 1.42 million annualized rate from a month earlier, according to a government report released Tuesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 1.47 million pace. Applications to build, a proxy for future construction, rose 5.2% to a 1.55 million rate, the fastest since 2007 and topping forecasts.

Portland, Ore., Forges Ahead With Ambitious Affordable Housing Construction Goals

October 26, 2020
Oregonian - Engineering News-Record

Portland has committed to building 720 new affordable housing units downtown as part of its ambitious Broadway Corridor redevelopment, but to meet that goal it may have to shift some of that housing to an auxiliary site across the railroad tracks from the main project.
And the city will have to overcome a legacy of failed housing goals at other major redevelopments. Backers say they are cognizant of those setbacks, and are structuring this project differently in hopes of avoiding past missteps.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com

New Home Construction in Canada Hits Its Highest Since 2007

October 19, 2020
Theophilos Argitis - Bloomberg

Construction on new homes surged to the highest level in more than a decade as Canada’s housing market continues to defy expectations of a slowdown.

Housing starts surged to 262,396 units in August on an annualized basis, up 6.9% from an already elevated 245,425 units a month earlier, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Wednesday in Ottawa. The highest monthly total since September 2007 was powered by new construction in Toronto and Vancouver, particularly multiple units like condos.

Cities Don’t Need High-Rises to Become Affordable

October 12, 2020
Virginia Postrel - Bloomberg

“Density” is a word only an urban planner could love. To normal people it’s a synonym for “crowded.” It calls to mind canyons of high-rise apartment buildings that block the light and traffic jams that block the roads. It’s the furthest thing from the California dream of a place in the sunshine with a little outdoor space to call your own.

That’s why 75% of the residential lots in Los Angeles are zoned for single-family, detached homes, with an even higher percentage in the San Fernando Valley and on the jobs-rich Westside. For L.A. to become affordable to people who don’t already own homes or make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, the city needs to put more places to live on that land. It needs to increase the density of its housing. Fortunately, it can do that without giving up sunshine and elbow room.

Builders and Manufacturers Could Lead This Recovery

October 5, 2020
Justin Fox - Bloomberg

Time to Make Some Stuff

The bounce-back from the pandemicession is still pretty tentative, and Friday morning’s jobs report may give us a better sense of just how tentative. But construction and manufacturing are already looking strong, writes Conor Sen, raising the possibility that this will be the first recovery in a long, long time to be led by the goods-producing sectors. That’s welcome news because it could mean big job gains even as other parts of the economy continue to be held back by Covid-19.

The housing market is booming because people who figure they’ll be working from home a lot need more space. With the supply of available houses on the low side even before the pandemic, that’s good news for those who know how to build them. Meanwhile, things are looking up for U.S. manufacturers due to a combination of pent-up consumer demand and a weak dollar. And though that weak dollar is frustrating for policy makers in the euro zone, argue Mark Gilbert and Marcus Ashworth, they need to resist the urge to start a currency war that could derail the global recovery.

Homes Designed to Keep Heat In Are Now Struggling to Cool Down

September 28, 2020
Jess Shankleman - Bloomberg

When it was completed in 2012 for the Summer Olympics, Lydia Yuzva’s housing complex in East London was hailed as a beacon of green design and energy efficiency. The 2,800 units, a mix of apartments and town houses, have floor-to-ceiling windows, lots of insulation, and environmentally friendly heating systems that use waste heat from a nearby power plant fueled with biomass and gas. They were designed for the U.K.’s cold winters, trapping heat to reduce energy bills.

Ex-Colony Executive Seeks $1.2 Billion for Single-Family Rentals

September 21, 2020
Patrick Clark - Bloomberg

ResiBuilt Homes was supposed to raise $250 million to develop single-family rental communities, but the deal was scuttled in March after the Covid-19 pandemic brought the U.S. economy to a halt.

Now, the Atlanta-based builder is out raising money again, and it’s seeking nearly five times the original amount. ResiBuilt is working with New York investment bank Whelan Advisory to raise $400 million in equity and $800 million in debt to build and manage rental houses as it looks to capitalize on demand for larger living spaces and investor appetite for ways to bet on the suburbs.

Homebuilders' Group Wants Trump to Act to Halt Lumber Price Surge

September 14, 2020
Tom Ichniowski - Engineering News-Record

With lumber prices rising sharply, the National Association of Home Builders wants the Trump administration to take steps to halt or reverse the costly trend.

Mr. Ichniowski may be contacted at ichniowskit@enr.com

Mortgage Rates in U.S. Slide Back Below 3% for 30-Year Loans

September 7, 2020
Craig Giammona - Bloomberg

Mortgage rates have once again dipped below 3%.

The average for a 30-year fixed loan was 2.99%, just off the record low set two weeks ago, Freddie Mac said in a statement Thursday. Rates had ticked up to 3.01% last week.

Want More Housing? Ending Single-Family Zoning Won’t Do It.

August 31, 2020
Emily Hamilton - Bloomberg

Before Covid-19 took hold of the national consciousness, the YIMBY movement — of those saying “Yes In My Backyard” to housing development — appeared ready to go mainstream. More and more people recognized that NIMBYism run amok and codified into local laws leads to fewer housing options, drastically raising prices in cities and towns alike, and contributing to inequality. Now, in a time of pandemic-driven budget cuts and unemployment, the importance of housing affordability is growing.

U.S. June New-Home Sales Surge to Highest in Almost 13 Years

August 24, 2020
Vince Golle & Maeve Sheehey - Bloomberg

New-home sales in the U.S. increased to an almost 13-year high in June, fueled by record-low borrowing costs and adding to evidence that residential real estate is a bright spot for the economy.

Purchases of new single-family houses climbed 13.8% to a 776,000 annualized pace after an upwardly revised May increase of 19.4%, government data showed Friday. The June pace exceeded all economists’ forecasts in a Bloomberg survey that had a median estimate of 700,000. The median selling price rose 5.6% from a year earlier to $329,200 as inventory shrank.

U.S. Homebuilder Optimism Continues Recovery as Buyers Return

August 17, 2020
Olivia Rockeman - Bloomberg

U.S. homebuilders’ outlook improved in July and is back at pre-pandemic levels as the housing market continued to lure buyers looking for more space and attracted by record-low interest rates.

A gauge of builder sentiment jumped to a preliminary 72, a 14-point gain from June, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected a reading of 61. A rating above 50 is considered positive. July’s increase followed a 21-point uptick in June.

Home Construction Starts Jumped in June, Buoying Builders

August 10, 2020
Prashant Gopal - Bloomberg

U.S. home construction starts rose 17% in June, with builders ramping up production as lockdowns eased.

Residential starts jumped to an annualized rate of 1.19 million, according to a government report released Friday. That matched the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey. The month-over-month increase was the biggest since October 2016, while the rate remains 4% below the level in June 2019.

Mortgage Rates Slip to Record Low 2.98% for 30-Year Loans

August 3, 2020
Prashant Gopal - Bloomberg

Mortgage rates are searching for the floor.

The average for a 30-year fixed loan fell to 2.98%, slipping below a psychological threshold that could fuel even more demand for housing.

Rates dropped to the lowest level in almost 50 years of record-keeping by Freddie Mac for the third straight week and the seventh time since the coronavirus outbreak began roiling financial markets. The tumble came as the Federal Reserve holds its benchmark rate near zero and buys mortgage bonds as part of its plan to stimulate the economy.

Embedding Better Urban Living – An Interview with Annalise Johns

July 27, 2020
Aarni Heiskanen - AEC Business

We sat down with Annalise Johns, Housing Lead of Connected Places Catapult to find out a little more about her work in the built environment, health, and regeneration. We discussed the challenges facing those operating in the industry, and what COVID-19 has revealed about how the sector is structured.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what got you interested in design for human health?

My first master’s thesis focused on best practice liveable residential high density. I studied the Vancouver example which was one of the first places to explore the best way to extract developer contributions to maximize amenities for the local community. It’s an excellent example of embedding health into planning and how appropriate levels of density contribute to healthy communities if designed appropriately.

Mr. Heiskanen may be contacted at aec-business@aepartners.fi

Churches Are Building Housing Developments ‘in God’s Back Yard’

July 20, 2020
Alex Wittenberg - Bloomberg

The Arlington Presbyterian Church in Virginia was dealing with declining Sunday attendance, and fewer donations, before deciding to turn to an affordable housing developer for help. In 2016, with membership down to about 60 from a height of 1,000 in the 1950s, the church sold its century-old sanctuary to the nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH). The developer razed the church and built a seven-story, 173-unit affordable complex in its place, allowing the congregation to escape increasing costs while fulfilling an obligation to care for the poor. Today, the church leases space on the ground floor of the building to serve its congregants.

Face-Covering Policy Remains Flexible As Hoar Construction Confronts Two Virus-Troubled Projects

July 13, 2020
Richard Korman - Engineering News-Record

This spring, Hoar Construction has found itself on both sides of the face-covering challenge.
As guidance on virus protections for workers evolved during the spring, contractors in many parts of the U.S. chose or were compelled by state or local rules or unions to go beyond federal guidance and require workers to use a face covering of some kind on the jobsite.

Richard Korman, Engineering News-Record

Mr. Korman may be contacted at kormanr@enr.com

Read the full story...

Will Affordable Housing Ever Come Back to Colorado?

July 6, 2020
David M. McLain – Colorado Construction Litigation

Prior to the Great Recession, condominiums and townhomes accounted for approximately 26%-27% of all permits pulled along the Front Range, and were referred to as “affordable housing,” meaning that you could find homes that were inexpensive or reasonably priced. Now that term has all but disappeared, to be replaced by “attainable housing.” In other words, it is possible to become a homeowner in Colorado, but it is by no means affordable.

To encourage more condominium and townhome construction, then-Gov. John Hickenlooper signed HB 17-1279 into law on May 23, 2017. Thereafter, the market has been waiting to see when affordable housing would make a resurgence. Unfortunately, it does not look like that will be happening any time soon.

Mr. McLain may be contacted at mclain@hhmrlaw.com

U.S. Pending Home Sales Post Record Gain, Exceed All Forecasts

June 29, 2020
Maeve Sheehey – Bloomberg

Contract signings to purchase previously owned U.S. homes surged in May by the most on record as mortgage rates fell and some states began to reopen from coronavirus lockdowns.

The National Association of Realtors’ index of pending home sales increased 44.3% to a three-month high of 99.6, after falling in April to the lowest level in records back to 2001. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 19.3% gain in May. Even with the outsize advance, the index is below the pre-pandemic high of 111.4, reached in February.

U.S. Homebuilder Optimism Makes Record Gain as Buyers Return

June 22, 2020
John Gittelsohn – Bloomberg

U.S. homebuilders’ outlook improved in June as record-low interest rates and demand for more space spurred buyers to re-emerge after the coronavirus shut down sales and construction.

A gauge of builder sentiment jumped to 58, a 21-point gain from May, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Analysts expected a reading of about 46, the average of 37 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. A rating above 50 is considered positive. June’s increase was the biggest on record for the index and followed a seven-point uptick in May.

Housing Market Has Been Surprisingly Active During Lockdown

June 15, 2020
Prashant Gopal - Bloomberg

Stuck day and night in their homes, a surprising number of Americans are deciding the pandemic is a great time to upgrade.

That's how it looks to Lee Whitaker, vice president of Pacesetter Homes. After the coronavirus shutdown, the small Texas homebuilder braced for the worst. And it came: Business plunged in April. Then in May, something unexpected happened. Sales were 30% above the company's own pre-crisis forecast for the month.


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