Volume 12, Issue 4 - May 2011

Industry Indices

Crowe Discusses “the Long Road Back to Normal” During WDMA Conference

David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), offered a look at the housing market and where it is headed during the recent Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) legislative conference in Washington, D.C. (see related story on page 20).

“Recovery will be slow on the long road back to normal,” said Crowe.

“We finally started seeing growth in the fourth quarter of 2010,” he added.

However, Crowe pointed out that many factors typically occur following a recession in regards to housing and that, in this case, a few of those things are not happening. For example, vehicle and furnishing purchases are starting to pick up—but not housing.

“We usually see housing as the first thing to pick up but we’re not seeing this time,” he said.

Crowe also pointed out that typical housing growth following a recession is 28 percent.

“Housing is a crucial part of growth and it isn’t participating,” said Crowe.

He also addressed household demand and this will be a factor in the eventual up tick in housing.

“There is only so long a 30-year-old can live in his mother’s basement,” said Crowe. “When that happens [children move out, etc.] things will pick up.”

Crowe ended his presentation with some specific forecasts for housing starts.

He projects a 14-percent increase this year in single-family homes.

“By the end of 2012 we should be around a million starts, but that is still off,” said Crowe.

He pointed out that these new homes built in the new normal also will be smaller in size.

“Even if we build a million homes they are smaller,” said Crowe. “Builders are holding costs down because they are competing with foreclosures.”

For the multi-family segment, Crowe forecasts a 21-percent increase in 2011 to 138,000 from 2010 numbers of 114,00. He predicts 193,000 multi-family starts in 2012.


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