NAHB’s Robert Dietz on this year’s home-building trends
Today’s HousingWire Daily interview features a crossover episode from HousingWire’s Housing News podcast. In this episode, HousingWire’s Editor in Chief Sarah Wheeler interviews Robert Dietz, chief economist and senior vice president of economics and housing policy for the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), about home-building trends across the country.
Here is a small preview of the interview, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity:
Sarah Wheeler: Housing starts jumped in March with single-family housing starts coming in at 15.3%. We’re up 37% from a year ago, but you know during this time last year we had COVID. So, I’d love to get your opinion on housing starts right now.
Robert Dietz: Housing starts at the beginning of 2021 have actually come in a little stronger than we expected. We use our builder confidence measure, the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, as a way of tracking where housing construction is going in the near term. It peaked at a level of 90 on a 100-point scale back in November with really, really strong buyer traffic numbers. Those numbers, of course, were driven by all the events that we saw in 2020, like historically low-interest rates, and of course, just a really tight resale market, which is now driving demand to new construction. Since that point in November, builder confidence has softened as it came in at a level of 83 in April. That being said, it’s still at a strong reading as it’s above 50, which indicates growth in construction. What we expected at the start of the year was growth, but maybe at a little slower growth rate because of some of the challenges the industry faces, but the rate of construction is continuing to come in strong. So, I think there’s an expectation that the market is really under-supplied, but the building industry is doing everything it can to add that much-needed inventory. That being said, we are going to face some challenges here in 2021, as the pace of home building continues.
The Housing News podcast explores the most important topics happening in mortgage, real estate, and fintech. Each week a new mortgage or real estate executive joins the show to add perspective to the top stories crossing HousingWire’s news desk. Hosted by Sarah Wheeler and produced by Alcynna Lloyd.