Thursday, June 30, 2016

June column for Builder & Developer magazine now online

My column for the June 2016 issue of Builder and Developer magazine is now posted online.

For this issue, entitled "The Evolution of the Smart Home," I reviewed the current state of the smart home, and how the industry can help propel it from the domain of the early adopter to a mass-market necessity:

An excerpt:

It should come as no surprise that the average consumer in 2016 has a general idea of what a smart home is, with a recent study estimating that 30 million U.S. households will add smart home technology in the next 12 months.
But what may surprise you is that the market remains largely the domain of early adopters – including the purchasers of new homes – because the hype doesn’t yet match the reality.
If, as market researcher Gartner is predicting, the typical family home could contain more than 500 smart devices by 2022, the transition from early adopter to mainstream consumer will require simplicity and ease of use over shiny, new products which don’t serve to budge the status quo.
To read the entire column, click here.

To read the entire June 2016 issue in digital format, click here.

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 6/30/16

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 6/30/16 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, we covered the following indicators:
  • Pending home sales dipped in May year-on-year for the first time in almost two years
  • Case-Shiller Index rose 5.0 percent year-on-year and 1.0 percent from March
  • First quarter GDP growth revised up to 1.1 percent in third and final estimate
  • Consumer sentiment dips in June, but no recession is anticipated
  • Durable goods orders fell sharply in May, mostly due to lower defense aircraft demand
Want to advertise in this three-times-per-week newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact the editor at nslevin@penpubinc.com.

Initial unemployment claims rise 10,000 in latest report

In the week ending June 25, initial unemployment claims were 268,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week's revised level. The 4-week moving average was 266,750, unchanged from the previous week's revised average.

Mortgage applications dip 2.6 percent even as rates edge down to lowest level since May 2013

The Market Composite Index decreased 2.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.  The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to its lowest level since May 2013, 3.75 percent.

Chicago PMI rose in June to highest level since January 2015

The PMI Chicago Business Barometer rose 7.5 points to 56.8 in June from 49.3 in May, the highest since January 2015, led by strong gains in New Orders and Production.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

As Baby Boomers Retire en Masse, They’ll Demand Different Housing Options

Four years ago, the first wave of the enormous Baby Boom generation reached the age of 66, and therefore able to receive Social Security and Medicare benefits.  Over the course of the next fifteen to twenty years, more of this group of 76 million will eventually join these early adopters, and in so doing will undoubtedly have an outsized impact on the U.S. housing market.


Much has been written lately about the relative affluence of this cohort and what that means for retirement housing.  Not only is the poverty rate for people age 65 and over lower than any other age group, but over 80 percent own their own home.  This group is also remarkably stable by today’s standards, with about 75 percent of those in their late 60s to early 70s in a marriage.  Older Boomers can also generally look forward to greater longevity, with life expectancy for a 65-year-old American now another 17.7 years for males and 20.3 years for females, or three to four more years versus the previous generation.

As they move into this next stage of life, Boomers are also expected to redefine retirement on their own terms.  Notably, just 65 percent of workers retire in the traditional sense at age 65.  Of the remaining 35 percent, over one-third remain employed part-time, and those with a higher education (and divorced women) tend to continue working the longest.   As they sell off large homes and prized possessions, this cohort is also about simplifying their lifestyle in order to engage more in experiences such as travel, civic engagement and spending more time with family and friends.

Recently, AARP updated its annual “Livability for All” report, which surveyed residents age 50 and older in eleven different metro areas about features of their current home, a ranking of community features, and perceived gaps in between today’s conditions versus their preferences.  The report also focuses on the ‘eight domains of livability’ which the World Health Organization has not only identified as the key to the quality of life in retirement, but help cities design strategies for dealing with the rapid aging of their populations and a concurrent increase in urbanization.

What’s most striking about this survey is the split between Boomer wants and needs, with 80 percent or more preferring to age in place.  However, just over half of respondents said they would consider moving if they found a home that would maximize their ability to live independently, followed closely by living in a larger or smaller home.  Curiously, just 35 percent of those surveyed said being closer to family and lower living costs was an important factor in a move.

So, if you’re hoping to capture the imagination of retirees and convince them to sell their homes to start a new life, what should you be selling?  Besides the home itself, I would recommend also focusing on WHO’s eight domains of livability:

·       Outdoor Spaces and Buildings – Provide greenbelts, outdoor seating areas, defined sidewalks and easily accessible buildings.
·       Transportation – Help people get out of their cars by presenting other options including shuttle services, access to public transit, taxi services like Uber or Lyft or even car sharing. 

·       Housing – Accentuate the ability for buyers to age in place and provide options for housing at different income levels.

·       Social Participation – Since loneliness has been found to have an out-sized impact on health, combat social isolation with regular and accessible social activities.

·       Respect and Social Inclusion – Launch intergenerational programs so younger people can learn from the older, whether it’s mentoring, teaching or volunteering.

·       Work and Civic Engagement – Help residents remain engaged in the workforce if they so choose, even on a part-time basis.  Volunteering for Meals on Wheels, the local animal shelter or even in local politics can help retirees continue to use life-long talents and skills.

·       Communication and Information – Although today’s retirees are more tech-savvy than ever, don’t assume they all have Internet access or smart phones; information needs to be distributed in multiple ways.

·       Community and Health Services – Since at some point nearly everyone will require some type of community or health care assistance, not only is it important to have such services nearby, but that it’s also accessible and affordable.

The good news is that is does seem that today’s retirees are embracing the later stages of life with both curiosity and vigor.  Or perhaps they’re simply mindful of the quote, “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

Personal income, consumer spending and prices all rose in May while savings rate dipped slightly

Personal income increased $37.1 billion, or 0.2 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $33.9 billion, or 0.2 percent, in May.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $53.5 billion, or 0.4 percent.

The personal saving rate was 5.3 percent, compared with 5.4 percent the previous month.

The May PCE price index increased 0.9 percent from May a year ago. The May PCE price index, excluding food and energy, increased 1.6 percent from May a year ago.

READ MORE

Conference Board: Consumer confidence rebounds in June after May decline

Consumer confidence rebounded in June, after declining in May. Consumers were less negative about current business and labor market conditions, but only moderately more positive, suggesting no deterioration in economic conditions, but no strengthening either. Expectations regarding business and labor market conditions, as well as personal income prospects, improved moderately. Overall, consumers remain cautiously optimistic about economic growth in the short-term.

READ MORE

Pending home sales dipped in May year-on-year for the first time in almost two years

After steadily increasing for three straight months, pending home sales let up in May and declined year-over-year for the first time in almost two years. All four major regions experienced a cutback in contract activity last month.

READ MORE

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

April Case-Shiller Index rose 5.0 percent year-on-year and 1.0 percent from March

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index reported a 5.0% annual gain in April, down from 5.1% the previous month. Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a month-over-month gain of 1.0% in April.


First quarter GDP growth revised up to 1.1 percent in third and final estimate

Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.1 percent in the first quarter of 2016, according to the "third" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  This was revised up from 0.8 percent in the second estimate.

Durable goods orders fell sharply in May, mostly due to lower defense aircraft demand

Orders for long-lasting factory goods fell more sharply than expected in May, amid a huge drop in defense aircraft orders. Excluding defense, orders fell 0.9 percent.

Consumer sentiment dips in June, but no recession is anticipated

Consumers were a bit less optimistic in June due to rising concerns about prospects for the economy. While no recession is anticipated, consumers increasingly expect a slower pace of growth in the year ahead.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Durable goods orders fell sharply in May, mostly due to lower defense aircraft demand

Orders for long-lasting factory goods fell more sharply than expected in May, amid a huge drop in defense aircraft orders. Defense aircraft orders plunged 34 percent, while orders that excluded transportation were down 0.3 percent. Excluding defense, orders fell 0.9 percent.

READ MORE

Consumer sentiment dips in June, but no recession is anticipated

Consumers were a bit less optimistic in June due to rising concerns about prospects for the economy. While no recession is anticipated, consumers increasingly expect a slower pace of growth in the year ahead. Importantly, the persistent strength in personal finances will keep consumer spending at relatively high levels and support an uninterrupted economic expansion. Although the data are consistent with GDP growth falling slightly below 2.0% in 2016, real consumer spending can be expected to rise by 2.5% in 2016 and 2.7% in 2017.

READ MORE

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 6/24/16



Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 6/24/16 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • May new home sales dipped 6.0 percent from April but still up 8.7 percent year-on-year
  • Leading Economic Index declined in May as initial unemployment claims rose
  • Mortgage loan applications rose 2.9 percent in latest survey as rates fall to lowest level since May 2013
  • Initial unemployment claims fall 18,000 in latest report
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact the editor at nslevin@penpubinc.com.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Initial unemployment claims fall 18,000 in latest report

In the week ending June 18, initial unemployment claims were 259,000, a decrease of 18,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 277,000. The 4-week moving average was 267,000, a decrease of 2,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 269,250.

Mortgage loan applications rise 2.9 percent in latest survey as rates fall to lowest level since May 2013

The Market Composite Index increased 2.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with refinances rising 7 percent and purchase loans falling 2 percent. The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to its lowest level since May 2013.

Leading Economic Index declined in May as initial unemployment claims rose

The US LEI declined in May, primarily due to a sharp increase in initial claims for unemployment insurance. While the LEI suggests the economy will continue growing at a moderate pace in the near term, volatility in financial markets and a moderating outlook in labor markets could pose downside risks to growth.

May new home sales dipped 6.0 percent from April but still up 8.7 percent year-on-year

Sales of new single-family houses in May 2016 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 551,000. This is 6.0 percent below the revised April rate of 586,000, but is 8.7 percent above the May 2015 estimate of 507,000.


BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 6/23/16

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 6/23/16 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Existing home sales grew 1.8 percent in May to highest level since February 2007
  • FHFA House Price Index rose 0.2 percent in April and 5.9 percent year-on-year
Want to advertise in this three-times-per-week newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact the editor at nslevin@penpubinc.com.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

FHFA House Price Index rose 0.2 percent in April and 5.9 percent year-on-year

U.S. house prices rose 0.2 percent in April from the previous month, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) monthly House Price Index (HPI). From April 2015 to April 2016, house prices were up 5.9 percent. Since October 2015, the national house price index level has surpassed the prior peak level from March 2007.

 READ MORE 

Existing home sales grew 1.8 percent in May to highest level since February 2007

Existing-home sales sprang ahead in May to their highest pace in almost a decade, while the uptick in demand this spring amidst lagging supply levels pushed the median sales price to an all-time high. All major regions except for the Midwest saw strong sales increases last month.

READ MORE


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 6/12/16

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 6/21/16 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • May building permits rose 0.7 percent from April but down 10.1 percent year-on-year
  • May housing starts dip 0.3 percent but up 9.5 percent year-on-year
  • Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook Survey reports little growth in June
Want to advertise in this three-times-per-week newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact the editor at nslevin@penpubinc.com.

Friday, June 17, 2016

May building permits up 0.7 percent from April but down 10.1 percent year-on-year

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,138,000. This is 0.7 percent above the revised April rate of 1,130,000, but is 10.1 percent below the May 2015 estimate of 1,266,000.

READ MORE

May housing starts dip 0.3 percent in May but up 9.5 percent year-on-year

Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,164,000. This is 0.3 percent below the revised April estimate of 1,167,000, but is 9.5 percent above the May 2015 rate of 1,063,000.  The dip indicates builders may be struggling to keep up with demand.

SEE MORE

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 6/17/16



Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 6/17/16 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Builder confidence rises two points to 60 in June, highest level since January
  • CPI rose 0.2 percent in May and 1.0 percent over previous 12 months
  • Mortgage applications dip 2.4 percent in latest survey even as rates dip to lowest level since January 2015
  • Initial unemployment claims rise by 13,000 in latest report
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact the editor at nslevin@penpubinc.com.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Initial unemployment claims rise by 13,000 in latest report

In the week ending June 11, initial unemployment claims were 277,000, an increase of 13,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 264,000. The 4-week moving average was 269,250, a decrease of 250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 269,500.

READ MORE

Mortgage applications dip 2.4 percent in latest survey even as rates dip to lowest level since January 2015

The Market Composite Index decreased 2.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with refinances falling 1 percent and purchases down 5 percent. The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to its lowest level since January 2015, 3.79 percent.

READ MORE

CPI rose 0.2 percent in May and 1.0 percent over previous 12 months

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent in May. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 1.0 percent before seasonal adjustment.

READ MORE

Builder confidence rises two points to 60 in June, highest level since January

After holding steady for the past four months, builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes rose two points in June to a level of 60 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest reading since January 2016.

READ MORE

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 6/16/16

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 6/16/16 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Retail sales rose for second straight month in May
  • Both sales and business inventories rose again in April
  • Industrial production dipped 0.4 percent from April and down 1.4 percent year-on-year
  • Empire State Manufacturing Survey expands modestly in June
  • Producer Price Index rose 0.4 percent in May but down 0.1 percent over previous 12 months
Want to advertise in this three-times-per-week newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact the editor at nslevin@penpubinc.com.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Federal Reserve votes to keep interest rates at current levels

The central bank decided not to raise interest rates Wednesday at the end of its two-day meeting. The decision was in line with expectations after a brutal May jobs report.

"The pace of improvement in the labor market has slowed," the Fed said in a statement. "Although the unemployment rate has declined, job gains have diminished."

The Fed cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth in 2016 to 2%, down from 2.2% earlier. This is the second time this year that the Fed is reducing its expectations for U.S. economic growth. The Fed also slightly decreased its projection for economic growth in 2017.

READ MORE

Producer Price Index rose 0.4 percent in May but down 0.1 percent for previous 12 months

The Producer Price Index for final demand increased 0.4 percent in May, and rising 0.2 percent in April. The final demand index inched down 0.1 percent for the 12 months ended in May.

READ MORE


Empire State Manufacturing Survey expands modestly in June

Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business activity expanded modestly for New York manufacturers.  Firms were more optimistic about the six-month outlook this month, and capital spending plans picked up.

READ MORE

Industrial production dipped 0.4 percent in May from April and down 1.4 percent year-on-year

Industrial production decreased 0.4 percent in May after increasing 0.6 percent in April. At 103.6 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production in May was 1.4 percent below its year-earlier level.

READ MORE

Retail sales rose for second straight month in May

Retail sales increased 0.5 percent in May after surging by an unrevised 1.3 percent in April. The second straight month of gains boosted sales 2.5 percent from a year ago.

READ MORE

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Both sales and business inventories rose again in April

Business inventories increased 0.1 percent in April following a 0.3 percent gain in March. Total business sales rose 0.9 percent in April after a 0.2 percent sales increase in March. It was the best showing since a 1.1 percent sales advance in February.

READ MORE

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 6/14/16


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 6/14/16 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicator:
  • Consumers less optimistic in preliminary June reading
Want to advertise in this three-times-per-week newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact the editor at nslevin@penpubinc.com.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Consumers less optimistic in preliminary June survey

Consumers were a bit less optimistic in early June due to increased concerns about future economic prospects. The strength recorded in early June was in personal finances, and the weaknesses were in expectations for continued growth in the national economy.

On the negative side of the ledger, consumers do not think the economy is as strong as it was last year nor do they anticipate the economy will enjoy the same financial health in the year ahead as they anticipated a year ago.

Overall, the data still indicate that real consumer expenditures can be expected to rise by 2.5% in 2016 and 2.7% in 2017.

READ MORE

CoreLogic HPI shows April home prices up 6.2 percent year-on-year and 1.8 percent from March

Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased year over year by 6.2 percent in April 2016 compared with April 2015 and increased month over month by 1.8 percent in April 2016 compared with March 2016, according to the CoreLogic HPI.

READ MORE

April wholesale inventories recorded largest increase in 10 months

U.S. wholesale inventories recorded their largest increase in 10 months in April as stocks of machinery and farm products rose 0.6 percent.

READ MORE

Mortgage applications jump 9.3 percent in latest survey as rates edge up slightly

The Market Composite Index increased 9.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with refinances rising 7 percent while purchase loans rose 12 percent. The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell slightly to 3.83 percent.

READ MORE

Initial unemployment claims fall by 4,000 in latest report

In the week ending June 4, initial employment claims were 264,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level. The 4-week moving average was 269,500, a decrease of 7,500 from the previous week's revised average.

READ MORE

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Job openings rose in April while hires edged down, suggesting caution among employers

The number of job openings rose to 5.8 million on the last business day of April. Meanwhile, hires edged down to 5.1 million while separations were little changed at 5.0 million.

READ MORE

Productivity fell 0.6 percent during first quarter of 2016 as costs rose 4.5 percent

Labor productivity decreased at a 0.6-percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2016 as output increased 0.9 percent and hours worked increased 1.5 percent. At the same time, unit labor costs rose 4.5 percent.

READ MORE

Consumer credit growth slowed in April as consumers pull back on credit card use

Consumer credit growth slowed in April after reaching a 15-year high the previous month as consumers reined in credit-card usage, but still rose by $13.4 billion.

READ MORE

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Factory orders rose 1.9 percent in April, largest increase in six months

Factory orders increased 1.9 percent in April, the biggest gain since a 2.4 percent rise in October. Orders had been up 1.7 percent in March after having fallen in February.

READ MORE

Manufacturing economy grew again in May for third straight month

The May PMI® registered 51.3 percent, an increase of 0.5 percentage point from the April reading of 50.8 percent. and registering growth for the third consecutive month.

READ MORE

Service sector economy grew at slower pace in May

The NMI® registered 52.9 percent in May, 2.8 percentage points lower than the April reading of 55.7 percent. Overall, the report reflects a slowing in momentum from the previous months of growth for the non-manufacturing sector.

READ MORE

Friday, June 3, 2016

May job growth dropped sharply to 38,000

The U.S. economy created the fewest number of jobs in more than five years in May, hurt by a strike by Verizon workers and a fall in goods producing employment, pointing to labor market weakness that could make it difficult for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.

READ MORE

Initial unemployment claims dip by 1,000 in latest report

In the week ending May 28, initial employment claims were 267,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 268,000. The 4-week moving average was 276,750, a decrease of 1,750 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 278,500.

READ MORE

Mortgage applications dip 4.1 percent in latest survey

The Market Composite Index decreased 4.1 percent from one week earlier, with refinances down 4 percent and purchase loans falling 5 percent. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remained unchanged at 3.85 percent.

READ MORE

Conference Board: Consumer confidence declined slightly in May

Consumer confidence declined slightly in May, primarily due to consumers rating current conditions less favorably than in April, and expect little change in economic activity in the months ahead.

READ MORE

Federal Reserve’s Beige Book reports modest growth thru mid-May

The economy grew at a modest pace in much of the country from April to mid-May, leading to tightening labor markets and higher wages.

READ MORE

Planned job cuts fell 53 percent from April to May to lowest total since December 2015

The number of job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers fell sharply in May, falling by 53 percent from April to 30,157 and is the lowest total since last December.

READ MORE

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Consumer sentiment rebounded in May to highest level in nine months

Consumer sentiment rebounded in May to its highest level in the last nine months. There have been only four times out of the last 110 monthly surveys that the Sentiment Index was higher.  Overall, the data indicate that real consumption will grow by 2.5% in 2016 and by 2.7% in 2017.

READ MORE

Consumer spending spiked 1.0 percent in April as annual core inflation remained at 1.6 percent

U.S. consumer spending recorded its biggest increase in more than six years in April, rising by 1.0 percent. In the 12 months through April the core inflation index rose 1.6 percent.

READ MORE

First quarter GDP growth estimate rose to 0.8 percent in second estimate

Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 0.8 percent in the first quarter of 2016, according to the “second” estimate. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 1.4 percent.

READ MORE

Construction spending dipped 1.8 percent in April from March but still up 4.5 percent year-on-year

Following a strong March, construction spending dipped 1.8 percent in April while residential spending fell 1.5 percent.  However, overall spending is still 4.5 percent higher than in April 2015.

READ MORE

March Case-Shiller Home Price Index up 5.2 percent year-on-year and 0.7 percent from previous month

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index reported a 5.2% annual gain in March, down from 5.3% the previous month. Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a month-over-month gain of 0.7% in March.

READ MORE

Private sector job growth dipped again to 156,000 in April

Private-sector employment increased by 156,000 in April, which compares to 194,000 the previous month and 191,000 in April 2015.  Manufacturing jobs declined by 11,000.

READ MORE