Housing affordability hits 10-year low
Syracuse, N.Y. continues to be most affordable, California dominates least affordable markets.
A combination of rising interest rates and escalating home prices have delivered housing affordability to a 10-year low in the third quarter of 2018, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).
In total, 56.4% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of July and end of September were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $71,900. This is down from the 57.1% of homes sold in the second quarter that were affordable to median-income earners and the lowest reading since mid-2008.
“Continuing home price appreciation and rising interest rates coupled with persistent labor shortages are contributing to housing affordability concerns,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, La. “Builders are increasingly focusing on managing home construction costs so that they do not outpace wage gains.
The national median home price edged up from $265,000 in the second quarter of 2018 to $268,000 in the third quarter. This is the highest quarterly median price in the history of the HOI series. At the same time, average mortgage rates rose by a nominal 5 basis points in the third quarter to 4.72% from 4.67% in the second quarter.
“Ongoing job and economic growth provide a solid backdrop for housing demand amid recent declines in affordability,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, housing affordability will need to stabilize to keep forward momentum from diminishing as we move into the new year.”
For the second straight quarter, Syracuse, N.Y., remained as the nation’s most affordable major housing market where 88.2% of all new and existing homes sold in the third quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $74,100.
Kokomo, Ind., was rated the nation’s most affordable smaller market, with 93.2% of homes sold in the third quarter being affordable to families earning the median income of $64,100.
Rounding out the top five affordable major housing markets in order are Scranton-Wilkes Barre-Hazleton, Pa.; Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; and Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.
Smaller markets joining Kokomo at the top of the list included Elmira, N.Y.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.; and Springfield, Ohio.
San Francisco, for the 4th straight quarter, was the nation’s least affordable major market. Just 6.4% of the homes sold in the third quarter of 2018 were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $116,400.
Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were located in California. In descending order, they included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara; and San Diego-Carlsbad.
James Hardie Q2 sales up 23%
James Hardie will discontinue its window business and multiple contour trim line.
Building products manufacturer James Hardie posted group net sales of $644.6 million for its second quarter 2019, up 23% from the second quarter of 2018.
The company also posted sales of nearly $1.3 billion for the first half of 2019, a 25% increase. James Hardie said North American fiber cement segment volume increased 5% for both the quarter and first half of 2019.
James Hardie reported a net operating profit of $80.9 million for the quarter, up 7%, and $160.8 million for the half year, up 17%, compared to the corresponding prior period.
“EBIT margin excluding product line discontinuation expenses of 22.8% and 23.8% for the quarter and half year, respectively, remain within our target range, but continue to be pressured by the increasing market costs of raw materials and freight,” said James Hardie CEO Louis Gries.
Gries also noted that the company had conducted a detailed review of its product portfolio and business segments and will discontinue its windows business and the Multiple Contour Trim product line, while simplifying its core ColorPlus product offering.
Looking ahead, James Hardie said it expects modest growth in the US housing market to continue in fiscal year 2019. The Company forecasts new U.S. construction starts between approximately 1.2 and 1.3 million.
Lowe’s honors veterans and active service members
Veteran associates will begin wearing a service patch on their Lowe’s vest.
Lowe’s said that it has helped save military families nearly $1 billion through its military discount program.
Through the Military Recognition Program, veterans and active service personnel are given a 10% discount off their everyday purchases at Lowe’s. Lowe’s has offered discounts to veterans and active military servicemen and women for more than a decade as a way of saying thank you to service members and their families.
And the home improvement retailer has also announced that veteran associates are being honored by wearing a service patch on their red Lowe’s vests. Also, four parking spaces at every store are reserved for current and honorably discharged members of the military.
On veterans day this year, Nov. 12, Lowe’s will give full-size American flags to the first 2100 customers at every store with a purchase. Free mini, parade-size flags will also be offered.
Lowe’s was recently named a Top 10 Military-Friendly Brand by G.I. Jobs, a designation that acknowledges corporate or businesses’ efforts, commitments and success in supporting the military community. Lowe’s offers employment opportunities for military personnel after their service ends with more than14,000 military, veterans, and military spouses currently work throughout the organization.
Currently, more than 650 associates are deployed to active duty. Lowe’s said it provides differential pay during their service, along with other benefits to help them and their families. Lowe’s also supports veteran-owned suppliers through its supplier diversity program and is actively involved in programs like the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and the Military Spouse Employee Partnership (MSEP).
“We recognize, honor and respect those who serve our country, and I am proud to announce this Veterans Day, that Lowe’s has helped military families save nearly $1 billion on their home improvement projects this year through our military discount program,” said Joe McFarland, Lowe’s executive vice president, stores and Gulf War and Desert Storm Veteran.
Based in Mooresville, N.C., Lowe’s operates more nearly 2,400 stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.