The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction

The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction | MyKCM

Many real estate economists have called on new home builders to ramp up production to help relieve the shortage of inventory of homes for sale throughout the United States. The added inventory would no doubt aid buyers in their search to secure their dream home, while also helping to ease price increases throughout the country.

Unfortunately for builders, there are many forces that are making it difficult for them to do just that!

Last week at the National Association of Real Estate Editors 51st Annual Conference, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft broke down the 4 ‘L’s of New Home Construction: Lots, Labor, Lumber, and Lending.

The concept of supply and demand is ripe in the new home construction industry. The four ‘L’s of new home construction are each suffering a supply problem, and with that comes added costs. Let’s break it down!

Lots – There is a shortage of land near metros at an affordable price, causing builders to move farther and farther away from cities to keep costs down. This isn’t always an attractive option for those who want to stay close to work.

Labor – The Great Recession forced many skilled construction and trade workers to find other sources of income once their jobs were lost at the time of the crash. Even though the overall housing market has recovered, these workers have not returned. Those who remain are starting to age out and retire, causing even more of a shortage and additional costs.

Lumber – The cost to build a new home is directly tied to the cost of the lot and the cost of the supplies needed to build the home. Lumber costs continue to escalate due to policies restricting the importation of Canadian lumber, making larger luxury homes an attractive option to recoup costs when selling, rather than building smaller single-family homes and making less profit.

Below is a graph showing the increase in cost of 1,000 board feet of framing lumber.

The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction | MyKCM

Year-over-year, lumber costs are up 13% after reaching a high of $433 in the second week of April.

Lending – During the Great Recession, many small community banks were forced to close their doors. These banks were a great source of capital and lending for builders looking to borrow money at a low interest rate in the community in which they were building. Tougher lending standards have made borrowing funds more expensive and more difficult for builders.

Bottom Line

Additional costs across all 4 ‘L’s have made building luxury properties more attractive to builders as they are able to make a larger margin with the higher sales price. The move to scale down to starter and trade up homes to help with supply will mean any additional costs are absorbed by the builders unless the supply of the 4 ‘L’s can increase!

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#1 Answer to the Housing Shortage: New Construction

The biggest challenge to today’s housing market is the shortage of housing inventory for sale. A normal market would see a six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, that number is below four months. This is the major reason home prices have continued to appreciate at higher levels than historic averages.

The good news is that builders are now starting to build more homes in lower price ranges.

Builder Confidence is Up

The Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reveals that builder confidence increased last month. HousingWire quoted NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz about the reason for the increase in confidence amongst builders.

“The HMI measure of future sales conditions reached its highest level since June 2005, a sign of growing consumer confidence in the new home market. Especially as existing home inventory remains tight, we can expect increased demand for new construction moving forward.”

Builders are Meeting the Needs of Today’s Purchaser

Builders are not only jumping into the market – they are doing a better job of matching current demand. The Wall Street Journalrecently reported:

“In a shift, new households are overwhelmingly choosing to buy rather than rent. Some 854,000 new-owner households were formed during the first three months of the year, more than double the 365,000 new-renter households formed during the period, according to Census Bureau data.”

The WSJ article went on to say:

“Home builders are beginning to shift their focus away from luxury homes and toward homes at lower price points to cater to this burgeoning millennial clientele.”

The graph below compares 2016 to 2017 new construction sales by price point. As we can see, builders are slowly beginning to shift to prices more favorable to the first-time and non-luxury buyer.

#1 Answer to the Housing Shortage: New Construction | MyKCM

Bottom Line

There is a drastic need for a larger supply of home inventory to meet the skyrocketing demand. Builders are finally doing their part to help rectify this situation.

New Home Sales Race to Keep Up with Demand

New Home Sales Race to Keep Up with Demand [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

 

Some Highlights:

  • Many buyers who are searching for their dream homes are turning to new home construction after 10% of all new home buyers sighted a lack of inventory of existing homes as their reason for purchase.
  • The median home price decreased slightly from September’s high of $314,100 to $304,500 in October.
  • The West saw the largest month over month jump in sales at 28.7%.

The Real Estate Market is Back!

7 Graphs That Show the Real Estate Market is Back! [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Distressed property sales fell to its lowest number since NAR began tracking it in 2008.
  • As you can see, with less distressed properties, sales are up in all price ranges except the $0 – $100K price range.
  • Interest rates are still at historic lows, signifying that now is the right time to buy!

New Construction Numbers Today vs 2005

New Construction Numbers: Now Versus 2005 | MyKCM

There is some thinking that the pace of the housing recovery is unsustainable and that we may be heading for another housing bubble. However, Jonathan Smoke, the Chief Economist of realtor.com explains the basic difference between 2005 and today:

“The havoc during the last cycle was the result of building too many homes and of speculation fueled by loose credit. That’s the exact opposite of what we have today.”

If we look at the number of new single family housing starts over the last 30 years, we can see that the numbers of housing starts during the current recovery (2012-Today) are still way below historic averages, and are far less than the numbers built during the run-up to the housing bubble (2002-2006).

New Construction Numbers: Now Versus 2005 | MyKCM

A single family housing start is defined as “the number of permits issued for construction of new single family housing units. Housing starts are an important economic indicator due to its extensive spill over benefits for the other sectors of the economy (retail, manufacturing, utilities).”

Bottom Line

Current demand for housing actually calls for more new construction to be built – not less. We should at least return to historically normal inventory levels.