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Homebuilding appears headed for comeback in 2014
But nationwide home construction is still far below where it was before the recession, the industry’s top economists say.
Crowe is forecasting that single-family home starts in the U.S. could rise more than 30 percent in 2014. He spoke this week at the industry’s annual International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.
Estimates are that U.S. builders started 621,000 houses last year — a rise of 16 percent from 2012 construction. But housing starts remain at less than half of where they were in 2006.
“The consumer is much more on board now,” he said. “Attitudes not just about the overall economy but housing in particular have improved.”
Only about 8 percent of annual home sales are new properties, Crowe said.
“The new home component is half of what it normally is,” he said.
Annual housing moves are still restrained.
“Existing homeowners are reluctant to roll over” into another house, Crowe said.
“From the beginning of the Great Recession and on, we have created households at a much slower rate than we have historically,” said David Berson, chief economist with Nationwide Insurance.
He predicts that household formation will increase this year, bringing more home purchases, as long as the job markets hold up.
Those who decide to make a purchase in 2014 will pay more to finance their properties, but home loan interest rates remain low by historic measures.
“Most housing markets across the U.S. will remain generally affordable,” he said, and overall home sales should rise about 5 percent.
Nationwide home prices rose about 11 percent in 2013.
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