The NAHB unveils 2017 forecast

Orlando, Fla. — The National Association of Homebuilders expects single-family housing starts will make a double-digit percentage jump in 2017.

During a presentation here at the International Builders' Show, NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz shared a forecast for 855,000 single-family starts for 2017, roughly a 10% increase over the previous year.

The forecast for 2018 is even better — up 12% to about 961,000 single-family starts.

Multi-family starts, however, are expected to remain flat, at about 384,000.

The NAHB remodeling forecast calls for growth of about 1% in 2017, and growth of about 2% in 2018.

Topping the list of limiting factors on residential construction statistics for 2017 is the labor market. Conditions are tight, said Deitz. In fact, as a percentage of total jobs, there is a 2.7% job opening rate in the building industry — that's higher than the 2.5% open rate that existed at the peak of the building boom.

"We've gotta recruit that next generation construction worker in this country," adding that the average age in the construction industry is 42.

On the positive side of the ledger, the NAHB forecast 2.4% growth in GDP, an improvement over the disappointing 1.6% growth in 2016. Meanwhile, "baseline demand" for starts is 1.3 million, accounting for population growth and the 300,000 to 400,000 houses lost.

Plus, the next generation of home owners is hovering around the home business. Deitz described the positive demographics this way:  The average age of millenials is 26, and the peak age of the U.S. Home buyer is 30.

"The recovery essentially continues and will continue," said Dietz.

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