Market Snapshot–New Construction Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes was unchanged in March from a revised level of 28 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. This means that following five consecutive months of gains, the HMI is now holding at its highest level since June of 2007. "While builders are still very cautious at this time, there is a sense that many local housing markets have started to move in the right direction and that prospects for future sales are improving," says Barry Rutenberg, a Florida home builder and NAHB chairman. "Builder confidence is now twice as strong as it was six months ago, and the West was the only region to experience a decline this month following an unusual spike in February," adds David Crowe, NAHB chief economist. "That said, many of our members continue to cite obstacles on the road to recovery, including persistently tight builder and buyer credit and the ongoing inventory of distressed properties in some markets." Green Market–Contractors Get Social An annual survey conducted by L.E.K. Consulting found that 30% of building contractors say that they are using social media more today than one year ago, and 35% expect to be more active on social media during the next year. Of the contractors who use social media, more than one-third use it to follow OEMs and learn about products, get pricing and other information, the Bostonbased firm reports. These contractors also expect the Internet to play a greater role professionally, with 48% expecting to increase their online research for price comparisons and 40% expecting to conduct more purchasing online during the next three years. Closing Thoughts–Tax Credit Support "We urge your support for an extension of a robust 25C tax credit, knowing the $1,000 level would effectively leverage consumer activity and job preservation. As you know, the credit benefits consumers by allowing them to choose from a menu of energy efficiency options and determine which product works best for their needs. It creates jobs and benefits homeowners by reducing their energy use, lowering their energy bills and improving their homes."–From February 28th letter signed by 19 top executives from window and door manufacturers sent to all members of Congress. Windows on Wall Street From Lincoln International The WD Stock Index continues to perform very well in a rising stock market environment, with gains of 20.4% as compared to 5.7% for the S&P 500 over the last 12 months. Residential construction activity is starting to improve as preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that building permits increased 5.1% in February 2012 compared to the prior month to seasonally adjusted annual rates of 717,000–the highest level since October 2008. The building permit figures represent a yearover- year increase of 34.3%. Housing starts were up 34.7% on the same basis. Given current trends, recent reports are starting to indicate that the housing market may be on a path to sustainable recovery. The Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit land-use think tank, predicts that single-family housing starts will jump from 428,600 in 2011 to a projected 800,000 in 2014.
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