Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/30/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/30/12 on the Web.

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

  • U.S. home price decline slows in March
  • Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index falls in May
  • Univ. of Michigan consumer confidence rises to highest level since October 2007
  • Durable goods orders rise less than expected in April due to declines in military aircraft orders and machinery
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Register now for the 2012 L.A. Economic Forecast Conference -- June 21st!


Join Beacon EconomicsMetroIntelligence Real Estate and Economic Advisors and the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University for the fourth annual 'What's Next LA?' economic forecast conference on the morning of Thursday, June 21st at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott.

The sections covering residential and commercial real estate have again been authored by MetroIntelligence Principal Patrick S. Duffy. Click here to register.

Click here to register.  Use code metrola12 to save $40 on registration!

This seminal annual event is presented in partnership with the Presidential and Key Executive MBA program at Pepperdine University and attended by hundreds of business and public sector leaders from across the Los Angeles region. Come hear California's leading forecasters deliver new outlooks for the national, state, and local economies.
  • Why do views on the U.S. economy remain downbeat despite solid signs of recovery?
  • Gas and oil prices continue to climb. What is the breaking point for the U.S. economy?
  • Despite low expectations for growth, the Dow recently crossed 13,000. Sustainable or is another crash on the way?
  • Signs indicate that California's economy is on the upswing. Will the recovery outpace, or fall behind, the rest of the nation?
  • Los Angeles's economic recovery appears to be lagging. What's holding back California's urban center?
Click here to register.  Use code metrola12 to save $40 on registration!


Following the forecast, engage with some of the state's foremost corporate leaders, venture capitalists, and education professionals about the real condition of California's business climate. The state's ability to retain its position as one of the world’s largest and most successful economies is facing heightened challenges; it is worth asking whether growth is truly being hampered or whether claims of an ‘unfriendly climate’ fail to hold up under scrutiny.
  • Do California businesses have access to the capital they need?
  • Is California truly over-regulated? Which rules most need to be changed?
  • How does the state’s tax system affect economic growth? Is the current system unfair? Unfriendly? Unbalanced?
  • What does the state’s neglected infrastructure and strained educational system imply for California's future?
All registrants receive the following:

  • 2012 Los Angeles Economic Forecast Book -- a data-packed analysis of the region's economic indicators.
  • Quarterly updates to the forecast for one full year
  • Chance to interact with forecasters and speakers
  • Prime networking opportunity
  • Breakfast buffet
  • Hosted self-parking
 Click here to register.  Use code metrola12 to save $40 on registration!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend from Housing Chronicles

The Housing Chronicles Blog would like to wish you and your families a very happy and safe Memorial Day holiday weekend.  As the unofficial start of summer, we know there will be lots of local trips taken to the beach, to the mountains, or even to the backyard BBQ.  But this holiday is also a time of reflection, and one in which we honor those who gave their lives so we’re able to continue our own in the United States.

So just how did Memorial Day start and evolve?

Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades.

Early Observances of Memorial Day

The Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history, requiring the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.
It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo—which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

Decoration Day

On May 5, 1862, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Many Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.

Evolution of Memorial Day

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Memorial Day Traditions

Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. On a less somber note, many people throw parties and barbecues on the holiday, perhaps because it unofficially marks the beginning of summer.
Source:  History.com

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/25/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/25/12 on the Web.
In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • NAHB's Housing Market Index rises to highest level in five years
  • New home sales rise to second-highest level in two years
  • FHFA House Price Index shows gain in first quarter of 2012 for home purchases.
  • Initial unemployment claims fall by 2,000 in latest survey
  • Mortgage applications rise by 3.8% in latest survey as refinances rise by 5.6%
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, May 23, 2012

Where do they stand? Obama vs. Romney on housing policy

After several years of false starts, there finally appear to be more green shoots appearing in the nation’s housing market which indicate a slow yet actual rebound.  Sales of both new and existing homes are on the mend, affordability is at generational highs, and the dreaded tsunami of foreclosures expected to lower prices even further have largely been bought up by investors to re-purpose as rental properties.  Even better, according to Moody’s housing analyst Celia Chen, homeowners will begin to favor newly built homes versus distressed homes which are damaged.

Nonetheless, because the economy remains the top concern of most voters in the 2012 Presidential election, how President Barack Obama and the GOP’s presumptive nominee Mitt Romney influence housing policy is of critical importance to homebuilders and homeowners alike.  As a political Independent for well over a decade, I may have no abiding loyalty towards either major party, but I do certainly want what’s best for the industry and, by extension, the country.

According to the NAHB, the housing sector normally accounts for 15% of the nation’s GDP, and is one of the few sectors which cannot be out-sourced to other countries across the globe.  Based on population growth and demographics, the nation will have to build 17 million new residences just to keep up with demand over the next decade, and yet for now the industry remains largely hamstrung by deferred household formations, limited construction financing, and a flawed appraisal system in which new homes erroneously get compared against deeply discounted distressed and foreclosed units.

So can market forces alone help guide this all-important sector of the U.S. economy to health, or will it continue to need more help?  The answer to that question depends on whom you ask.

For Mitt Romney, while there is nothing on his campaign Web site which specifically addresses housing, he seems to rely more on the private market to sort things out.  According to Glenn Hubbard, an economic adviser to Romney, the domination of housing finance by government entities such as the FHA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is simply not sustainable and must be phased out in favor of private lenders.

At a recent campaign event in Florida, Romney also reportedly mused about getting rid of agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of his plans to simplify the federal government.  As for foreclosures, he prefers to let the free market let prices hit ‘rock bottom’ as opposed to government policies which would seek to make such declines more orderly.

President Obama, on the other hand, seems to believe that continued intervention by the federal government – at least in the short to medium run -- is essential to providing adequate mortgage capital and even to help underwater borrowers refinance, with restrictions, to today’s historically low rates.  He probably doesn’t have much choice:  given that his previous attempts to bolster the housing market haven’t worked at even close to the scale that is necessary – with less than 20% of homeowners eligible for loan modifications -- if government intervention is to work at all, the policies must be more aggressive.

More recently, Obama seems to have absorbed this criticism, unveiling more than a half dozen plans to encourage refinancing, to reduce the overhang of debts owed by underwater homeowners, and to expand existing aid programs even to borrowers who were speculators or simply took on too much debt.  These latest moves seem as much practical as they are political, since the previous obsession with refusing to help those who made financial mistakes has really acted as a structural brake on the economic rebound.  Schadenfreude may feel good to the individual, but it does nothing to fix the housing market.

Since the Obama Administration has put the housing market back on its front burner, I’d expect the Romney campaign to do the same.  But given that the federal government continues to guarantee or insure more than 90% of all home mortgage activity through FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, candidate Romney will have to offer specifics on just what, when and how the private sector will successfully step up to the plate.

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/23/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/23/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Both sales and prices for existing homes rise in April
  • Survey of economists reveals more optimism for the job and housing markets
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, May 21, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/21/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/21/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Leading indicators drop by 0.1% in April as rebound remains slow but choppy
  • Philadelphia Fed reports slowing growth in mid-Atlantic states in May
  • Initial unemployment claims unchanged from previous week at 370,000
  • Federal Reserve minutes show continued commitment to keeping interest rates near zero through late 2014
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, May 18, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/18/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/18/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • April housing starts jump by 29.9% over same month of 2011 and 2.6% above previous month
  • April building permits rise by 23.7% above same month of 2011 but fall by 7.0% from previous month
  • Industrial production rises by 1.1% in April, far above expectations and the biggest jump since December 2010
  • Mortgage applications rise by 9.2% 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, May 16, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/16/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/16/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Builder confidence rose five points in May
  • April retail sales up by 6.4% over same month of 2011
  • CPI unchanged in April; core prices rise by 0.2%
  • Empire State manufacturing activity accelerates in May
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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May column for Builder & Developer magazine now online

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

For this issue, entitled "Multi-Generational Housing Goes Mainstream," I wanted to discuss the emerging trend of building homes for multi-generational households.  In recent months, the L.A. Times and Fox News have both interviewed me regarding this issue, so I thought this would be an opportune time to provide a more detailed analysis of what's going on.  As part of this column, I also interviewed Adrian Foley, President of the Southern California division for Brookfield Homes.

An excerpt:


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.   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...

To read the entire column, click here.

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

Monday, May 14, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/14/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/14/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Consumer sentiment in May hits four-year high
  • Producer Price Index fell by 0.2% in April; first drop of 2012 and the biggest decline since October 2011
  • U.S. trade deficit widened in May as both exports and imports hit records
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, May 11, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/11/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/11/12 on the Web.
In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Both wholesale sales and inventories rose slightly in March
  • Mortgage applications rose by 1.7% in latest survey
  • Initial unemployment claims fell by 1,000 in latest 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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/9/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/09/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • 100 markets on NAHB's Improving List in May, virtually unchanged from April
  • Consumer credit jumps in March
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, May 7, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/7/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/07/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Employers fill 115,000 positions in April as the unemployment rate remains little changed at 8.1%
  • Initial unemployment claims fall to 365,000 in latest report
  • Services sector grows for 28th consecutive month but at a slower pace
  • Factory orders fall by 1.5% while inventories rose by 0.3% in March
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, May 4, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/04/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/04/12 on the Web.
In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Private sector employment rose by 119,000 during March
  • Planned job cuts rise slightly in April; monthly average so far in 2012 below that of 2011
  • Labor productivity drops by 0.5% in first quarter 2012 as labor costs rise by 2.0%
  • Overall mortgage applications rise by 0.1% as purchase loans rise by 2.9% 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, May 2, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 5/2/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 5/02/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Construction spending in March up by 6% over same month of 2011 and rose by 6.7% for 1Q 2012
  • Manufacturing activity expands for 33rd consecutive month
  • Chicago Business Barometer dips for second month; has been expanding since October 2009
  • Personal income rises by 0.4% in March as consumer spending rises by 0.3%
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.