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By Tony Misura

2018 HOUSING MARKET PROJECTIONS The ProDealer Summit in Phoenix last week was highlighted by Ivy Zelman’s presentation. Ivy is the founder of Zelman and Associates who is focused on US housing market analysis. Ivy, known as “Poison Ivy,” by her bosses at Credit Suisse when in 2006 she called the housing bubble during the robust market we thought would never end. She followed up to call the 2012 bottom, again more accurately and ahead of her peers. Following are my notes from her presentation: Age in place: Retired people are staying in their single-family homes past 80 years of age, limiting the supply of homes for millennials. Remodeling is driven by debt/equity ratio in housing. Currently 30% of single-family homes have no debt, 5% have greater than 20% equity, 4% are underwater. Combined with the single-family home average age of 41 yrs., Ivy is “Bullish in Remodeling”. People have money to spend, and homes need upgrading. Construction labor market is tight, but not getting worse having leveled. Land development is at the most active point since the downturn with developers profiting from subdividing C grade raw land. A reflection of the high demand. The increased flexibility and support from the banking industry providing home mortgage loans is a story not getting out. FHA loans for 3.5% down for borrowers with 620 FICA scores are widely available. Home mortgage interest tax deduction changes will be limited to homes over $500,000 and homeowners with an annual income over $100,000 (which only make up 14% of homeowners). Second homes will likely lose the tax deduction. Overall, Ivy believes it will have little if any impact on the housing market. Demand: Millennials are getting married, having babies and wanting space to grow their families. Surging demand beyond obstacles, new homes are in broadly short supply. Ivy is projecting housing starts to increase 12% in 2018 and 10% in 2019. As of today, the top 10 publicly traded production builder stock prices are up on average 82% in the past 52 weeks. Wall Street seems to agree with Ivy’s calculations. When the question was asked whether increasing prices of softwood and panels will be an obstacle, her comment was along the lines of “don’t hesitate to increase your prices they need your materials.” National Production Builder profit margins are 19-22%, the market demand can handle the increase in material expense. The gasp from the crowd was hard to miss. Published every other week by Ivy and her team, The Z Report is rooted in proprietary research and opinions and void of advertisements, focusing exclusively on rich content for executives and business leaders that removes all the noise of volatile and unreliable macro data. We encourage you to visit THE Z REPORT WEBPAGE to learn more and sign up for a FREE TRIAL SUBSCRIPTION. Dr. Robert Dietz, the Chief Economist from NAHB, also presented. His review was more conservative projecting 7% increase in single family housing in 2018 and another 7% in 2019. Student college loan debt increased 220% in the past 10 years, 1.9% GDP projection, and labor constraints were highlights to his position. These slides in his presentation I found the most interesting. US Wage Growth is 2.5% across all industries, seems like a low hurdle for our industry to draw talent from other sectors. Overall US productivity up 25% from 1993-present – Construction Industry productivity at 0% Overall US Productivity of all industries from 1993 to present has increased 25%, over the same time the construction industry is a flat 0% increase. In the past 25 yrs. construction productivity has not changed. The World Wide Web was first tested in 1993, fax machines, pagers, 4% of the population had a giant box cell phone, this was the technical status of 1993 – and the construction industry productivity is the same as 1993. What an immense opportunity! The dealers that develop productivity improvements in construction will have the greatest competitive edge and profits will follow. Might be a solid topic to start your next strategic planning session?
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