More Home Builders Are Confident about Recovery This Year

February 18th, 2010

Confidence among home builders in the country rose in February this year, based on the growth of the Index of Builder Confidence of the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo.

In February, the index climbed up to 17, higher than the previous index of 15 and higher than the prediction of analysts. It was also the highest point reached over the past three months.

The buyer traffic gauge stood at 12 and the measure of sales prospects surged to 27, up from the January reading of 26.

According to analysts, although figures below 50 mean that most home builders view the industry situation as poor, the increase in the index meant that builders are less gloomy about their prospects for recovery. One of the factors that have encouraged builders is the expansion and extension of the homebuyer tax credit program.

The general economic index of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York also climbed up to 24.9 in February from the January reading of 15.9. Readings above zero mean that New York and portions of Connecticut and New Jersey have significant growth prospects.

According to Michigan businessman and NAHB chairman Bob Jones, optimism is growing among home builders because of the still low mortgage rates, the improvement of the tax credit scheme and the apparent stabilization of home prices.

Of the four regions tracked by the index, confidence surged in two regions, rising to a record 19 in the South and to 13 in the Midwest. In both regions, the index rose by two points.

In contrast, confidence dropped to 19 in the Northeast and to 14 in the West. The index fell by one point in both regions.

David Crowe, the chief economist of NAHB, said that the tax credit expansion has been a positive factor for builders, but the continued foreclosures are still pushing down the level of builder expectations.

As predicted by a foreclosure tracking firm, about 3 million homes will be taken back by mortgage banks this year because of depressed property values and high unemployment rates. Last year, 2.82 million homes were put into the foreclosure process.

According to survey respondents, housing starts may have increased to an annual rate of 580,000 units in January from 557,000 units in December last year. If the scheduled release of the Commerce Department report affirms the projection, the 4.1-percent increase in housing starts shows that home builders have begun to act on their optimism.

Home Building Activity Remains Slow Nationwide

November 30th, 2009

The home building sector remains discouraged about the housing market and new home construction as of November, according to a recent survey held by the National Association of Home Builders.

The NAHB index for home builders’ confidence dropped to 17 in November from the unrevised index of 18 in October. Before the housing crisis, the NAHB index had never fallen below 20 in the 24-year history of the index, but over the past 19 months, the index remained below 20 points.

The index also has been below 50 points – the break-even level – for 43 consecutive months already. The index improved in September to 19 points, as indications of improvements in the market appeared, such as increases in home sales and prices. But the index later fell as home builders became discouraged by the approaching expiration of the federal tax credit scheme.

Goldman Sachs economist Ed McKelvey said that the October index was disappointing because it reinforced the view that recent increases in home sales were temporary and that the transitory factor of federal tax credit was largely driving home sales increases.

The one positive thing about the study was that it was held before Congress approved the proposed extension of the federal tax credit.

A study conducted by TD Bank Financial Group also showed a sharp slowdown in home building activity in October. TD Bank reported that new residential construction decreased by nearly 11 percent from 592,000 units in September to 529,000 units in October. The October count was far below the industry forecast of 600,000 units and was the second monthly decrease over the past 6 months. It also marked the lowest level of new home construction since April.

New single-family house construction dropped by 6.8 percent to 476,000 units and new multi-family construction fell by 15.2 percent to 89,000 units.

Housing starts in October fell by nearly 32 percent from October last year and dropped to almost 77 percent below their peak level of 2.27 million housing units in January 2006. Building permits also declined by 4 percent on a month-over-month basis to 552,000 units, driven by a drop in building permits for single-family units. It was in the multi-family subsector where building permits rose by six percent to 123,000 units.

The two reports are disappointing to housing analysts and housing market participants, but the expansion and extension of the federal tax credit are expected to spur increased activity in the home building sector.

Home Builders Getting Windfall from Tax Refunds

November 13th, 2009

Home builders across the country, particularly the biggest home construction firms, will be receiving hundreds of millions in bonanza from tax refunds resulting from the approval of the new tax refund legislation recently.

The tax refund would enable companies to recover from their losses, especially large firms which can claim refunds of taxes they have paid over the past 5 years.

The National Association of Home Builders lobbied hard for the passage of the tax break legislation, which also includes all other types of industries. But home builders say they will be helped significantly by the tax refunds because they were directly hit by the housing meltdown and suffered huge losses.

According to several financial analysts, the tax refund would not only help home builders recover; it would also increase the cash hoard of the biggest home construction companies in the country. They claim that the largest home builders have accumulated cash after selling most of their real estate properties over the past years and not building more homes.

Based on a report released by J.P. Morgan, each of the ten top home builders in the country has a cash hoard of about $1.2 billion, compared to their average of $616 million in cash in 2007.

Rob Stevenson, an analyst with investment bank Fox-Pitt Kelton, said that home builders sold a lot of their assets over the past years and that the tax refunds would be equivalent to free money added on top of their cash hoard.

Michigan-based home builder Pulte Homes expects to receive more than $450 million in tax refunds while Lennar Corp. of Florida could receive up to $300 million. Arizona-based Meritage Homes Corp. could claim around $60 million.

With these tax breaks, the extension and expansion of the federal tax credit for home buyers and other positive developments affecting home builders, credit rating agencies such as Credit Suisse upgraded home builders, sending prices of home building stocks to higher levels.

The stocks of Lennar rose by nearly 5 percent or 63 cents to $14.14 and the shares of Meritage increased by nearly 6 percent or $1.11 to $19.90.

According to many housing analysts, what the tax breaks would really significantly help are the small home builders, which had been battered by the housing crisis and which have temporarily closed their home building activities. The cash money would enable them to restart their operations and recover.

Building a Home in Georgia – Profitable for Niche Builders

November 12th, 2009

Building a home in some parts of Georgia, particularly in Somerset, Canton and other parts of Cherokee County, has been profitable for niche builders. These niche builders have been constructing homes for retirees in active adult communities that have amenities for homeowners aged 55 and above. Steve Romeyn, head of homebuilding firm Windsong Properties, said […]

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Building a Home with Solar Water Heating Pays Off Big

November 6th, 2009

Building a home with solar water heating system can save you money immediately and can pay off big. Initially, installing a solar water heating system will cost you more than installing a standard water heating equipment, but the thermal system will save you money and in the long-term, you will get positive cash flow. Since […]

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Building a Home the Green Way

October 27th, 2009

Nowadays, it is not enough that you think about you and your family’s needs when building a home. With the many campaigns to reduce energy consumption worldwide, you will also have to consider the environment’s as well. Lucky for you, there are a lot of home builders who specialize in this particular home construction. You […]

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Home Construction Industry Confidence Declines This October

October 22nd, 2009

Confidence of the home construction industry has declined by one point this October to 18. This is according to the most recent Housing Market Index report from Wells Fargo and the National Association of Home Builders. One of the reasons for the decline is the nearing expiration date of the tax credit program. For the […]

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Mississippi’s House Building Industry Goes Green

October 19th, 2009

Joining the “green revolution”, Mississippi’s house building industry has started to incorporate environmentally-friendly features into new home and building designs. Jackson-based company, Residential Advantage, is just one of the new breed of home builders which specializes in such field. For the company, building greener homes is considered to be a part of their responsibility to […]

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Congress Debates Extension to Benefit Building Home Industry

October 16th, 2009

Two proposals is currently being debated in the Congress involving the extension of the federal program that gives first time homebuyers $8,000 in tax credit. The said bills are being supported by the building home industry to pave the way for a long term recovery. Many housing analysts are not sure if the extension is […]

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SEC Investigates Company Building Houses

October 14th, 2009

The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently investigating KB Home, a large company involved in building houses, due to the possibility that the company has violated certain disclosure and accounting policies. The said investigation is actually the second time that the home builder attracted the attention of the commission. The first one is an investigation […]

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