Friday, March 30, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/30/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/30/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Third estimate of fourth quarter 2011 GDP remains at 3.0%
  • Initial unemployment claims fall by 5,000 in latest survey
  • Durable goods orders rise again by 2.2% as inventories also rise by 0.4%
  • Mortgage applications decline as refinance activity continues to soften; purchase loan activity still rises by 3.3%
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The housing rebound continues, albeit slowly

Although it’s very easy to get caught up in the news that the national S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index for January showed a continued decline, the truth is that both the economy and the housing market are improving.

In addition, it’s important to note the most critical flaw of the index: because it summarizes the direction of prices over a three-month rolling period, it can miss increases that are occurring now. Add to that mix the fact that it relies on data from home closings and not contracts, and it’s easy to see why its published figures may not correlate to what you’re seeing and hearing in your own markets.

One more immediate report to start tracking might be the WMM Auction Index, which is a monthly measure of prices from auctions in 20 different markets by the auction housing Williams, Williams and McKissick. Due to the speed of the auctions (which are marketed 30 days in advance), a tight closing period (30 days) and a fairly large sample size (10,000 to 15,000 sales per month), the WMA Index has led swings in the Case-Shiller Index by up to 90 days since being launched in 2007.

In the case of January 2012, although Case-Shiller’s numbers showed a decline of 0.8% from December 2011, the WMA Index rose by 1.7% for the exact same time period. Consequently, we will be adding this monthly index to the regular MetroIntelligence Economic Update featured in the free, three-times-per-week BuilderBytes email newsletter.

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) is also reporting continued improvement, with February 2012 existing home sales up by 8.8% since the same month of 2011. At the same time, sales prices for all housing types rose by a small yet positive 0.3% even though distressed homes (both foreclosures and short sales) accounted for 34% of the total.

At current sales rates, existing home inventory would take 6.4 months to sell as total listed inventory has fallen by over 19% over the past year. NAR’s pending home sales index – which reflects contract signings -- is also up by 9.2% over the past year. Should sales activity continue at present levels, we could very well see the best housing market (relatively speaking, of course) in five years.

Even sales of new homes are coming off their historic lows, rising by over 11% over the twelve-month period ending in February 2012 to a seasonally adjusted rate of 313,000 units. Not surprisingly, the increase varies between geographic regions, with the best performances noted in the West (up by 32.8%) and the Mid-west (up by 29.0%). New home inventory has also fallen over the past year to just 150,000 units, which represents a 5.8-month inventory timeline at current sales rates.

Housing starts, long seen as one of the best forward-looking indicators of future sales and leasing activity, rose by nearly 35% between February 2011 and 2012 to 698,000 units. Although the increase in starts for multi-family structures was far higher than the overall average at 108%, single-family starts still rose by 17.8%. During the same time period, building permit activity rose by about the same amount, posting an overall increase of 34.3% and averaged by gains of 23.6% for single-family homes and nearly 60% for multi-family buildings of five units or more.

Finally, both consumer and builder confidence are holding their own even after the recent rise in gas prices. For consumers, as long as gas prices don’t float up to $5 per gallon, their optimism about the improving job market is helping the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment to hold onto the last five months of gains. Similarly, NAHB’s Housing Market Index continues to hold at 28, its highest level since June of 2007.

So, while the housing rebound may seem uneven and spotty, it is definitely underway. Want to know what the economic tea leaves foretell for your regions and projects? Contact us at MetroIntelligence and we’ll do our best to assist you.

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/28/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/28/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:

  • Pending home sales index dips in February but is 9.2% above February 2011
  • Although national S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index declined in January, prices rose in Miami, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.
  • Consumer confidence retreats slightly in March but consumers still believe economic rebound on track

Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Monday, March 26, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/26/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/26/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicator:

  • February new home sales dip slightly from January but 11.4% above February 2011 levels

Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Friday, March 23, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/23/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/23/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Leading indicators index rises for fifth straight month
  • February existing home sales slip slightly form January but 8.8% higher than February 2011
  • Mortgage applications fall as rates rise slightly
  • Initial unemployment claims fall by 5,000 in latest survey
  • FHFA House Price Index unchanged from December to January, down by 0.8% over last year
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/21/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/21/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:

  • Housing starts for February 2012 dip from January but 35% above February 2011 levels
  • NAHB Housing Market Index holds at 28 in March
  • Building permits for February 2012 rise by 5.1% from January and by 34.3% above February 2011 levels

Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Monday, March 19, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/19/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/19/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:

  • Consumer sentiment dips due to higher gas prices but employment prospects remain optimistic
  • CPI rose by 0.4% in February, up by 2.9% over last 12 months (unadjusted)

Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Friday, March 16, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/16/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/16/12 on the Web. A lot of news this week!

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • FOMC holds rate at .25%, observes continued moderate economic expansion
  • Producer Price Index rose by 0.4% in February, up by 3.3% over previous 12 months
  • Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates high degree of optimism and increased spending
  • Philadelphia Federal Reserve's Business Outlook Survey also points to continued optimism
  • Initial claims for unemployment fall by 14,000 in most recent survey
  • Trade deficit widens in January as imports rise faster than exports
  • Overall mortgage applications fall by 2.4%, although purchase loans rise by 4.4% in latest survey

Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/14/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/14/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:

  • February retail sales rise by 1.1% from January and by 6.5% since February of 2011
  • Business inventories rise more than expected, mostly due to higher automobile stockpiles.

Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March column for Builder & Developer magazine now online

My column for the March issue of Builder & Developer magazine is now posted online.

For this issue, entitled "Preparing for the Employment Rebound," given the improving economic climate, I wanted to review the best networking and job-hunting strategies for those working in the building industry. The column includes interviews with recruiters Matt Slepin of Terra Search Partners and JoAnne Williams of JWilliams Staffing.

An excerpt:

So what’s the best way to network your way into a job? Firstly, both Williams and Slepin agree that LinkedIn is the best social network for business. Secondly, demonstrating involvement in the industry can show that you know how these organizations are structured and have personal resources to bring with you. And thirdly, don’t be a passive jobseeker: instead, research the hiring manager for a position and network your way into the company so you already know who you’re talking to before that all-important interview.

However, there is a minor editing error I must correct here: whereas the published article writes that Matt Slepin is suggesting that job applicants use a functional (i.e., non-chronological) resume to hide gaps in employment or mask their age, in fact Slepin 'hates' functional resumes and said that people trying to be clever by using one may be creating other problems for themselves (i.e., seeming dishonest or unknowingly implying they're even older than they are). Instead, he insists he never practices any age bias, and suggests being honest about any gaps in employment or detours into other industries can be discussed in a cover letter or interview.

To read the entire column, click here.

To read the entire March 2012 issue in digital format, click here.

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/12/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/12/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:

  • Non-farm employment rose by 227,000 jobs in February; unemployment remains unchanged at 8.3%
  • U.S. trade deficit rose sharply in January

Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Friday, March 9, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/09/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/09/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Private sector employment rose by 216,000 in February
  • Consumer credit expanded more than expected in January
  • Mortgage applications dip slightly in latest survey
  • Job cuts by 3% overall, but still remain high in transportation and consumer goods
  • Initial claims for unemployment rise by 8,000 in most recent report

Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Daylight Savings Time for 2012 Starts This Weekend!

It’s “Spring Forward, Fall Back” time again.


This weekend marks the annual rite of passage in which we set our clocks forward one hour, but there are a few things you should remember this weekend when you “spring forward” for Daylight Savings Times.

First, remember to set your clocks forward one hour before you go to sleep Saturday. Daylight Savings Time for 2012 officially begins at 2 a.m. Sunday in the United States and Canada. Second, make time to check and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. And third, please note that most open houses will now be from 2-5pm instead of 1-4pm and home builders' sales offices will be open an hour longer to accommodate more hours of daylight. Sure, you'll lose an hour on early Sunday morning, but this time change also marks the beginning of spring and summer.

Not all areas in the United States observe Daylight Savings Time (DST). These include the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, Hawaii and most of Arizona except for the Navajo reservation. Modern DST was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson, an astronomer and entomologist whose day job was working as a cadet for the New Zealand postal service. Since he came to highly value daylight hours for his scientific hobbies, he suggested seasonal time adjustments to the Wellington Philosophical Society, but it wasn’t until 1927 that the idea was launched on a trial basis.

Many countries have used it since the, although the practice has been both praised and criticized. For example, adding daylight to afternoons benefits retailing, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after traditional working hours, but causes problems for farming, evening entertainment and other occupations tied to the sun. Its effect on health and crime is less clear. Although an early goal of DST was to reduce evening usage of inefficient incandescent lighting (formerly a primary use of electricity), modern heating and cooling usage patterns differ greatly.

In any event, Happy Spring from Housing Chronicles!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/07/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/07/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:

  • Factory orders fell by 1% in January, but inventories inched up
  • Service economy index surprisingly strong, continues to improve

Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Friday, March 2, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 3/02/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 3/02/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Annual rate of construction spending in January rises by 7.1% over same month of 2011
  • Fourth quarter 2011 GDP rises from 2.8% to 3.0% in second estimate
  • Personal income and spending inch up in January
  • Federal Reserve "Beige Book" shows continued economic growth in January and early February
  • Chicago PMI rises to highest level in 10 months
  • Mortgage applications remain flat, dipping just 0.3% in latest survey

Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.

Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.