Monday, April 30, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/30/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/30/12 on the Web.


In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Consumer confidence remains largely unchanged in April as consumers await more jobs and lower gas prices
  • GDP increased by annual rate of 2.2% in the first quarter of 2012 according to advance estimate
  • Gross domestic purchase index rose by 2.4% in the first quarter of 2012, up from 1.1% the previous quarter
  • Wages rise by 1.9% for 12-month period ending with March 2012
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Friday, April 27, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/27/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/27/12 on the Web.
In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Pending home sales rise in March as housing market continues to signal a recovery
  • Fed upgrades economic outlook, still plans on keeping interest rates low through late 2014
  • Durable goods orders fall as shipments and inventories continue to rise
  • Overall mortgage applications dip in latest survey even as new purchase loan demand increases
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Multigenerational housing goes mainstream

Photo credit:  NY Times
Over the last year, the concept of multi-generational housing has been steadily gaining attention from the mainstream press, many of whom have been focused on the NextGen line of new homes offered by Lennar.

In the last few months alone, I've been asked to weigh in on this subject by FoxNews, the L.A. Times and American Public Media's Marketplace, so I thought this was a timely subject to address here.

Lennar’s NextGen homes offer a ‘home within a home,’ offering its own private living quarters suitable for everyone from visiting in-laws or unemployed family members to unrelated tenants helping chipping in for the mortgage payment. And yet Lennar is far from the only builder offering this concept, as variations from builders including Taylor Morrison, The New Home Company and even affordable housing providers such as Bridge Housing and Jamboree Housing Corp. have been built.

Although once quite common, the trend of living with relatives declined with the rise of the suburbs, but is now staging a comeback due to economic conditions.  For example, the share of multi-generational households approached 25% in 1940 before steadily dropping to just 12.1% by 1980.  By 2010, however, that share had rebounded back to 18.3%, and, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, is far higher for minority communities in which family elders are readily welcomed as active members of the household.

In 2009, 25.8% of Asian households, 23.7% of black households and 23.4% of Hispanic households included multiple generations versus just 13.1% for white households.  It’s also much more common for foreign-born households (24.6%) versus those born in the U.S. (15.6%).  The highest percentage of these households by age group included those 85 and older (21.5%), 25 to 34 (21.1%) and 55 to 64 (20.9%), which would point to the elderly as well as recent retirees and boomerang children.

According to Adrian Foley, President of Brookfield Homes’ Southland Division, although they are also addressing the multi-generational trend, the overall demand for such homes may be limited.  “I think that it’s not a passing fad because statistics don’t lie, but I don’t think it’s for everybody and won’t be a paradigm shift for the industry,” he offers.  “We might have some pent-up demand that will level out and then get back to normal demand.”

For Brookfield, although most of their move-up homes have long included areas for visiting in-laws, it’s only been recently that their plans include separate sections which can be locked off and include their own entrances.  Their interior designers then model it as a combination of alternative uses that can be adjusted as a resident’s life journey changes.

“We’re big on efficiency competing with the resale market:  maintenance and cost of household ownership is one big area on which we can compete versus the resale market,” concludes Foley.  “We’ve focused on both the entry-level and move-down buyers, so we’re trying to come up with attached housing that meets the needs for both ends of that barbell.”  Much of that philosophy includes providing accessibility, locations close to activities which aren’t funded by HOA dues, and a cost that’s affordable.

There is, however, some potential confusion about Lennar’s NextGen new brand of homes.  That’s because there’s also the NextGen Home Experience produced by Washington-based iShowMedia.  For over a decade, iShow has been showcasing emerging trends, products and services for the American home at trade shows such as IBS and CES, online, NextGenTV and in traditional media.  With over 25,000 plans, the company is now beginning to leverage their brand name and license their name to various builders through a pilot program now underway.  Most of these partners would build single-family communities instead of condominiums or apartments.

Adds company president Paul Barnett, “People are going to live in their homes longer and that’s why we got into this flexibility.  Aging in place, universal design works for everybody. Not that the whole house needs to be that way, but part of it should.”

Want to know more about this trend and how to address it in your projects?  Contact us at MetroIntelligence for details!

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/25/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/25/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • March new home sales dip from February but still 7.5% above same month of 2011
  • Decline in S&P/CaseShiller Home Price Indices slowing
  • FHFA House Price Index posts first 12-month increase since July 2006 to July 2007 interval
  • Consumer Confidence Index unchanged in April from May as consumers remain 'cautiously optimistic.'
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Housing Chronicles hits 10,000 monthly page views

According to the most recent statistics from Blogger, The Housing Chronicles Blog has rebounded to over 10,000 page views over the past month!

Thank you to both our regular readers as well as new visitors who find us through search engines such as Google or Bing, as well as referring sites such as the great Calculated Risk blog.

So how does 10,000 page views relate to traditional building industry publications?  Although we're still a minnow compared to much larger and established titles, here's how we currently rank against the most recently published print circulation figures of popular building and development trade magazines:
  • Builder - 103,394
  • Professional Builder - 96,116
  • Builder and Developer - 40,000+
  • DCC Journal - 30,000+
  • Green Home Builder - 28,000+
  • Multi-Family Executive (MFE) - 20,700
  • Affordable Housing Finance - 11,000
  • The Housing Chronicles Blog - 10,000+
  • Big Builder - 8,600 (currently on a hiatus in the printed form)
  • Builder & Remodeler - 8,000

Not bad for one guy with an idea and an interest in blogging!

This blog first launched in November of 2007 as a way to cover stories you might not have noted.  More recently, it's been the place for you to make sure you never miss an important story about housing and economics with the recently launched contribution by MetroIntelligence to the three-times-per-week BuilderBytes email newsletter.

Looking to reach our readers with a targeted advertising campaign?  Contact us for more details!


BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/23/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/23/12 on the Web.
In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates continued improvement; high optimism about the six-month outlooks
  • Philadelphia Fed survey reports moderate manufacturing expansion; firms optimistic about future hiring plans
  • Mortgage applications increase by 6.9% in latest survey
  • Industrial production rose by 5.4% in first quarter of 2012
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, April 20, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/20/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/20/12 on the Web.
In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Existing home sales dip in March but still 5.2% above the same month of 2011
  • Leading Economic Index rose by 0.3% in March, increasing for the sixth consecutive month
  • Initial unemployment claims fall by 2,000 to 386,000
  • Business inventories up by 0.6% since January and by 7.6% since February 2011
  • March retail sales rise by 6.5% since March of 2011
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, April 18, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/18/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/18/12 on the Web.

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

  • Building permits in March up by 4.5% since February and by 30.1% since March of 2011
  • NAHB Housing Market Index drips after seven months of consecutive increases
  • Housing starts in March down by 5.8% since February but 10.3% above March of 2011
  • March retail sales rise 6.5% since March of 2011

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, April 16, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/16/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/16/12 on the Web.

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

  • Consumer expectations rise to highest level since September 2009
  • CPI rose by 2.7% over the past year; core prices rose by 2.3%

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, April 13, 2012

April column for Builder & Developer magazine now online

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

For this issue, entitled "The Economic Rebound Continues, Albeit Slowly," I reviewed the variety of good news on the economic front.  While the rebound certainly isn't robust enough as in past recoveries, it is still largely in positive territory.

An excerpt:





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...

...both consumer and building 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....
To read the entire column, click here.

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

Happy Friday the 13th!

Happy Friday the 13th from MetroIntelligence! Have you ever wondered about the history of Friday the 13th and the superstitions attached to it? According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century.

The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards‘ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th.

He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that one Friday 13th of November he died.[4]

Several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition.

One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.

  • In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.
  • Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales,and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys, begin new projects or deploy releases in production. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s.
  • One author, noting that references are all but nonexistent before 1907 but frequently seen thereafter, has argued that its popularity derives from the publication that year of Thomas W. Lawson‘s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, in which an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.
  • Records of the superstition are rarely found before the 20th century, when it became extremely common. The connection between the Friday the 13th superstition and the Knights Templar was popularized in the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and in the 1989 work “Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry“. On Friday, 13 October 1307, hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested in France, an action apparently motivated financially and undertaken by the efficient royal bureaucracy to increase the prestige of the crown. Philip IV was the force behind this ruthless move, but it has also tarnished the historical reputation of Clement V. From the very day of Clement V’s coronation, the king falsely charged the Templars with heresy, immorality and abuses, and the scruples of the Pope were compromised by a growing sense that the burgeoning French State might not wait for the Church, but would proceed independently. However, experts agree that this is a relatively recent correlation, and most likely a modern-day invention.

Source: Wikipedia

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/13/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/13/12 on the Web.

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

  • Federal Reserve Beige Book shows continued improvement; multifamily construction still on a roll.
  • 15-year fixed loan interest rates drop to new all-time low
  • Producer Price Index unchanged in March; rose by just 2.8% over the past year
  • Initial unemployment claims rise by 13,000 in most recent 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, April 11, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/11/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/11/12 on the Web.

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

  • Lennar finding success with multi-generational housing, but how big is the market?
  • Wholesale sales in February 2012 up by 9.3% since February 2011 as total inventories rise by 9.3%
  • SmallBusiness Optimism Index fell in March even as owners report largest increase in new jobs per firm in a 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.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Fox News interview on Lennar's NextGen homes now posted online

The interview I did last week with Fox News about Lennar's NextGen homes is now posted online. You can also watch it below:



Since the topic of multi-generational homes is gaining so much traction (besides speaking with Fox News about this, I've also spoken with the L.A. Times and American Public Media over the past few months), I'm going to devote an upcoming column in Builder & Developer magazine on this topic. If you know of any great & creative examples of other multi-generational homes I can cite, please let me know!

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/9/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/9/12 on the Web.

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

  • Non-farm payroll employment rose by 120,000 in March as unemployment rate little changed at 8.2%.
  • Consumer credit rose by 8.5% in January, led mostly by non-revolving credit

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.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter and Passover from Housing Chronicles

The Housing Chronicles Blog and MetroIntelligence Real Estate & Economic Advisors would like to wish our readers, clients and colleagues a very Happy Easter! For our Jewish friends, colleagues and clients, we’d also like to wish you a very Happy Passover. So what exactly are the histories of these two holiday periods? Read on for more details…

Easter

Easter, which celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, is Christianity’s most important holiday. It has been called a moveable feast because it doesn’t fall on a set date every year, as most holidays do. Instead, Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. Therefore, Easter is observed anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year. Orthodox Christians use the Julian calendar to calculate when Easter will occur and typically celebrate the holiday a week or two after the Western churches, which follow the Gregorian calendar.

The exact origins of this religious feast day’s name are unknown. Some sources claim the word Easter is derived from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. Other accounts trace Easter to the Latin term hebdomada alba, or white week, an ancient reference to Easter week and the white clothing donned by people who were baptized during that time. Through a translation error, the term later appeared as esostarum in Old High German, which eventually became Easter in English. In Spanish, Easter is known as Pascua; in French, Paques. These words are derived from the Greek and Latin Pascha or Pasch, for Passover. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection occurred after he went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), the Jewish festival commemorating the ancient Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt. Pascha eventually came to mean Easter.

Easter is really an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single-day observance. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil. The day before Lent, known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, is a last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection. The 50-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide and includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

In addition to Easter’s religious significance, it also has a commercial side, as evidenced by the mounds of jelly beans and marshmallow chicks that appear in stores each spring. As with Christmas, over the centuries various folk customs and pagan traditions, including Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets and candy, have become a standard part of this holy holiday.

Source: History.com

Passover

One of the Jewish religion’s most sacred and widely observed holidays, Passover (Hebrew: Pesach) commemorates the story of the Israelites’ departure from ancient Egypt, which appears in the Hebrew Bible’s books of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, among other texts. Jews observe the weeklong festival with a number of important rituals, including traditional Passover meals known as seders, the removal of leavened products from their home, the substitution of matzo for bread and the retelling of the exodus tale.

One of the most important Passover rituals for observant Jews is removing all leavened food products (known as chametz) from their home before the holiday begins and abstaining from them throughout its duration. Instead of bread, religious Jews eat a type of flatbread called matzo; according to tradition, this is because the Hebrews fled Egypt in such haste that there was no time for their bread to rise, or perhaps because matzo was lighter and easier to carry through the desert than regular bread.

On the first two nights of Passover, families and friends gather for a religious feast known as a seder. During the meal, the story of the exodus from Egypt is read aloud from a special text called the Haggadah (Hebrew for “telling”), and rituals corresponding to various aspects of the narrative are performed. For example, vegetables are dipped into salt water representing the tears Jews shed during their time as slaves, and bitter herbs (usually horseradish) symbolizing the unpleasant years of their bondage are eaten. A seder plate at the center of the table contains Passover foods with particular significance to the exodus story, including matzo, bitter herbs, a lamb shankbone and a mixture of fruit, nuts and wine known as charoset, which represents the mortar Jews used while bonding bricks as slaves in Egypt. Other typical menu items include matzo kugel (a pudding made from matzo and apples), poached fish patties called gefilte fish and chicken soup with matzo balls.

Children play an important role in the seder and are expected to take part in many of its customs. At one point during the meal, the youngest child present recites the four questions, which ask what distinguishes this special night from all other nights. In many households, young people also enjoy participating in the traditional hunt for the afikomen, a piece of matzo that is hidden early in the evening. The finder is rewarded with a prize or money.

Source: History.com

Friday, April 6, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/6/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/6/12 on the Web.

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

  • 101 markets on April's NAHB Improving Market Index
  • Private sector employment rose by 209,000 jobs in March; gains for previous months also revised higher
  • Planned job cuts in March fall to lowest level since May 2011
  • Economic activity in services sector continued to rise in March; cost pressures and concern about fuel prices remain
  • Mortgage applications rise by 4.8% in latest survey; first rebound in Refinance Index in six weeks
  • Initial unemployment claims fall by 6,000 in most recent 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.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Look out for my interview on the Fox News Channel

UPDATED:

Yesterday, I was interviewed by a Fox News producer for a piece she's doing on multi-generational housing.

We talked about the NextGen product introduced by Lennar, but I told her they were not the only builder pursuing this trend, the reasons why, and if it's a passing fad or something here to stay.
And of course I'll post a link to the story once it runs.

The piece is scheduled to run all day Easter Sunday between 11am and 5pm Pacific Time. A good time to catch it would be at 4pm for the Fox Report.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/4/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/4/12 on the Web.

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

  • Factory orders rise by 1.3% in February
  • Fed minutes for March show no QE3 planned, interest rates to remain at historical lows
  • Construction spending falls by 1.1% in February due to government budget cutbacks and more foreclosures in the pipeline

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, April 2, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 4/2/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 4/2/12 on the Web.

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

  • Consumer confidence: positive job and income growth more than offset rising gas prices
  • Consumer spending rises to 7-month high in February as incomes rise by 0.2% and core prices rise as expected
  • Chicago PMI paused in March but still marked its fifth month above 60

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.