Same Ivy Zelman, a Better Message
Housing industry analyst Ivy Zelman made a name for herself during the height of the housing boom by suggesting that the run couldn’t last forever. It was an unpopular message. But it was right.
But here in Las Vegas, at the 2015 BMC National Sales Meeting, Zelman’s latest market forecast and observations on the current economic climate were welcomed by the building industry audience.
Particularly welcoming for BMC was the Zelman & Associates status update of market conditions in those western states where BMC customers are most likely to live and build.
Most of these cities beat the U.S. average for overall home-building health as measured by Zelman’s proprietary index (see chart).
“Western markets are still seeing stronger-than-average population growth, because they are desirable places to live,” she said.
Zelman also offered some comforting analysis on a pair of topics that some consider to be bugaboos for the home-building industry — the attitudes of young home buyers, and, on a more serious note, the rising debt burden on college students.
Young adults enjoy city life, and they may claim a distaste for the suburbs of their parents, but the numbers consistently show a steady move to single-family dwellings as households are formed.
“Lifestyle dictates whether people will be in a single-family home or live in an apartment,” she said. “When you get to a certain age, 70% to 80% of the people are going to live in a single-family shelter, and we really do believe it has to do with love and marriage.”
The 20- to 34-year-old age group — representing two-thirds of all new households being formed — has seen strong job growth. This is also a key factor to household formation.
Zelman was more careful in describing the student debt issue. It’s commonly accepted that this debt is barring the young adult from entering the home market. However, a closer look reveals:
- About a third of student debt is held by those 40 years old or older;
- About 40% of student debt is related to graduate programs; and
- Less than 5% of debtors hold more than $100,000, and more than 85% hold less than $50,000.
“We’re not diminishing the student loan debt crisis, but if you’re actually paying down your student debt, you’re actually buying more homes than those who don’t have a student loan debt.”
Price Point Pressure
Sure, home builders face all kinds of pressure, including the prices of sticks and bricks, Ivy Zelman said. She also predicted manufacturers will continue to raise prices.
But it’s no time to feel sorry for the home builders. Why? Their margins are doing just fine.
“Sorry, builders in the room,” she said. “Gross margins historically range from 18% to 22%. So builders in 2014 were averaging 24.5% margins. We have builders averaging 28% margins.”
Zelman expects 2015 to bring a return to a more normal range.
The house that IBS built
The industry converged on Las Vegas in January for the hallmark event in building materials. At no other trade show is there such an emphasis on residential components as the NAHB International Builders’ Show, where attendees are often treated to a look at the year’s most cutting-edge concepts in residential construction.
The size of the show — already international in scope — only expanded further in 2015. Not only could builders shuttle back and forth between IBS and KBIS (the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show), but this year, the events were co-dated with the International Window Coverings Expo, the International Surface Event and the Las Vegas Market.
Here are just a few standouts from the week’s building extravaganza.
Jeld-Wen Custom Wood Folding Window
Open-concept walls have permanently left their mark on the building industry, but Jeld-Wen was on hand with a compelling middle ground. The Custom Wood Folding Window (pictured above) uses the same accordion-style design for a room-enlarging effect, but doesn’t take up an entire wall. (jeld-wen.com)
TimberTech Ashwood Composite Decking
TimberTech left no doubts as to what its best new offering was. Ashwood, a rustic new color option from the Legacy Collection, was on display in the form of a large deck at TimberTech’s booth. (timbertech.com)
Weather Shield Contemporary Corner Window
Weather Shield has been busy adding new product lines and innovations to its wares over the past couple of years. Among the most eye-catching is this corner window from the Contemporary Collection, which features a clear satin stain. (weathershield.com)
Kohler Touchless Flush
Kohler’s most exciting product wasn’t exactly one you could see — or touch. Touchless Flush comes as an intuitive retrofit kit to equip toilets with a motion-activated flush feature. (us.kohler.com)
Amerock Wall Plates
The latest in decorative coordinating products from Amerock came in the form of its new wall plates lineup, a series of 83 outlet, toggle, cable and blank wall plates in rich finishes like satin nickel and oil-rubbed bronze. (amerock.com)
Native Trails Farmhouse Sink
Rustic, homespun looks have hardly finished having their moment in residential design. Native Trails was a KBIS standout with its generous, artisan-crafted copper sinks. (nativetrails.net)
Schlage Sense System
Fresh from the official unveiling of the new Schlage Sense System at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the lock company was in full force at IBS. It touted benefits like key-free and voice-operated activation, as well as HomeKit compatibility and end-to-end encryption. (schlage.com)
Bedrosians Interlude Glass/ Stone Mosaic Blend Duet
“Mixed media” designs continued turning heads at this year’s Surfaces event. The Bedrosians take on this prevalent backsplash look included glass and stone components. (bedrosians.com)
Five things to know before NHS
1. New Show Floor Layout
This year’s show is designed for excitement — NHS has made some major changes to the floor plan, which will make it easier for buyers to find what’s new and not miss out on any of the networking and awards events taking place throughout the Show. The Lawn, Garden & Outdoor Living and Hardware categories will move over to the South Hall, offering one location to see Lawn, Garden & Outdoor Living, Hardware & Tools, Pet Products and Farm & Ranch. This move helped reorganize Homewares, PDRA Paint & Accessories Show, Plumbing & Electrical, and International Sourcing in the Central Hall. This also allows for the co-located Lancaster Buying Show to be located directly in the Central Hall. The feature areas will also move onto the Show floor, where attendees will find Made in the USA, NRHA Village, Homewares and Lawn, Garden and Outdoor Living Awards programs, New Product World and Social Media Zone. And finally, the Tailgate area will move in between Central and South Halls, serving as a connection point between both halls.
2. Expanded Categories
One of the big surprises from 2014, which will expand in 2015, is the Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery category. Located within the Homewares area, this category will double in size and feature over 50 exhibiting companies with products focused on making sure consumers are prepared in case of emergency and providing the tools to recover if a disaster should occur.
3. New Exhibitors
In addition to some of the category changes, each product category will highlight exhibitors brand new to the show, allowing attendees to easily discover new brands and products within their target product categories. New Products: Inventors Spotlight is always a huge success, as buyers can view never-before-seen products from over 120 brand new inventors. In addition, the show will host over 800 new companies in all categories, and over 1,000 new products located in the New Product World and New Product Launch areas. Also new this year, buyers and sellers will be matched based on their needs at the Show. So if buyer attendees are looking for new products, they should fill out their registration information as accurately as possible, and the Show will provide them with a matched list of “must-see” exhibitors.
4. More Buying Opportunities
The Show is launching an entirely new concept this year where buyers will have the opportunity to bid for products being auctioned off from exhibiting companies, right on the Show floor. Products will range from overstock to floor models, and all attendees will bid directly from their mobile or tablet devices (if you don’t have one, the Show has got you covered). The auction will run throughout the Show — additional details coming soon!
5. It’s the Show’s 70th Anniversary
As the National Hardware Show celebrates “70 Years Young,” there are many more new initiatives, programs and surprises in store. Stay tuned for some exciting announcements in the near future about the happenings at this year’s National Hardware Show.