Improving markets list shortens
The list of U.S. housing markets that showed measurable and sustained improvement dropped by four, from 84 to 80, in August 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). This number includes representatives from 32 states plus the District of Columbia.
Shifting home prices caused nine markets to fall from the list, while 75 markets that retained their places and five new ones were added.
The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. The five metros that were added to the list this month include Miami and Palm Bay, Fla.; Hinesville, Ga.; Terre Haute, Ind.; and Lubbock, Texas.
"The list of improving housing markets in August includes metros across every region of the country, all of which have distinctly different characteristics in terms of their economic and employment bases as well as other factors," noted Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. "One thing that most markets have in common, however, is the tight lending environment for both builders and buyers that continues to drag on their positive momentum."
"The fact that we continue to see a strong core of metros showing up on the improving list each month adds to the growing evidence that the emerging housing recovery has a solid foundation on which to build as housing returns to its traditional role of driving economic growth," observed NAHB chief economist David Crowe.
For a complete list of all 84 metropolitan areas currently on the NAHB/IMI index, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in August, click here.
Friendly Batman or Dark Knight? Man arrested at big box
A man wearing a Batman-like mask cape and body armor was arrested outside a Mansfield, N.J.-area Home Depot after scaring a number of shoppers by approaching them to ask if he could help in any way.
According to an article in the Express Times, Matthew Argintar, 23, is part of a members-only group called Real Life Super Heroes (Reallifesuperheroes.org) that provides content on crime fighting, equipment and police scanner feeds.
Several Home Depot customers called 911 after Argintar began waving at children and offering assistance to people entering or exiting the store. Police speculated that last month’s movie theater shooting on the opening night of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Denver may have helped cause the panic.
Argintar told reporters at the scene that he normally only comes out in costume at night; this was his first public venture during daylight hours. His mission, he said, is to “inspire hope.”
Police charged Argintar with being disorderly and unlawful possession of handcuffs. He was taken to Hackettstown Regional Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation and was then released, pending an appearance Aug. 21 in Mansfield Township Municipal Court.
Mansfield Township police Lt. Michael Reilly said the charges were justified.
"The officers on scene determined why there were charges based on his behavior," Reilly told the newspaper. "He scared the heck out of the citizens."
Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Aug. 3, 2012
*Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.
Crow’s Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow’s Weekly Market Report.
Lumber: Good demand throughout the distribution chain kept upward pressure on SPF prices, particularly narrow widths. Yards reported selling healthy volumes, while wholesalers continued to purchase and sell at a consistent pace. Limited volumes shown by mills kept upward pressure on Southern Pine prices. Buyers again noted broken tallies at mills. Truss manufacturers have been instrumental in the market’s current upswing, while treaters have participated, but notably less than in the spring. Coastal species lumber prices continued to tilt upward, as demand outpaced production and mills maintained solid order files of two weeks and sometimes longer. Frustration with finding good random tallies was still prevalent with Inland species lumber buyers. Mill offerings continued to be bits and pieces, unless buyers were willing to book orders several weeks out. Business remained steady for Eastern White Pine, and producers’ order files were out two weeks or more on some items. Light volumes of Idaho White Pine were sold at current price levels. Activity for Ponderosa Pine boards remained quiet. Producers reported light but steady sales of #3 and #4, but #2&Btr was a struggle. Ponderosa Pine industrial lumber producers continued to struggle to find a home for the upper grades of Shop. The few sales that were made came with counters in the $15 to $25 range. Activity was a little better for #3 and P99. Sales of Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr remained steady, and suppliers were able to maintain good order files. Steady to slower was how most Western Red Cedar traders described sales activity. The sluggish market left producers with little opportunity to raise prices. Orders often consisted of several items.
Panels: Order files and moderate demand propelled OSB prices upward. Decent sales activity in all regions strengthened the perception that the market still had wood to buy. Several Eastern Canadian producers went off the market towards week’s end. Lean inventories and better demand than what yards expected during the summer contributed to escalating prices in the Southern Pine plywood market. Adverse to those high prices, buyers are purchasing conservatively, subsequently forcing them to step back in to the market to purchase on a consistent basis. Western Fir plywood sales continued at a strong pace, elevating prices in some instances to levels not seen since October 2005. After a healthy run in the Canadian plywood market last week, the pace was subdued until midweek, when producers reported an increase in activity for both standard and selects. Particleboard and MDF sales were steady and prices were stable. Some mills carried MDF order files well into September. Others had lead times into the latter half of August. Particleboard order files were usually two weeks out.
For more on RISI, click here.
For more on RISI, click here.