For the 12th consecutive quarter, the number of homebuilders who said they have confidence in the market for new homes for older adults increased during the three months that ended in September, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
In NAHB’s 55+ Housing Market Index—a poll of single-family homebuilders—contractor confidence jumped nine points over September 2013’s level.
The index is based on the increase in single-family home sales to seniors; expected sales over the coming six months; and foot traffic of older house hunters in model homes designed for over-55 homeowners.
Homebuilders’ confidence in their ability to sell homes designed for independent seniors seems well placed. After all, big builders like Lennar and Pulte are raking in profits on sales of in-law apartments— units intended to be shared by multiple generations of the same family.
It’s a good day for homebuilders. Stocks prices are soaring on data showing confidence in the industry surged in September to the highest-level since 2005, which suggests that home construction could pick up in the coming months.
Lennar (LEN) gained 5.5% to $41.28, while KB Home (KBH) rose 4.3% to $17.47
Meanwhile, exchange-traded funds linked to the industry also got a boost. The iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB) rose 2.6% to $24.21 after more than 6.2 million shares changed hands.
The National Association of Home Builders said Wednesday that an index of builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose four points to 59 in September, besting the 55.5 expected by economists. A reading over 50 means home builders generally view conditions as favorable.
A top executive of Lennar Corp. LEN -1.17% recently joined with officials from Weehawken, N.J., to celebrate the completion of the home builder’s newest condominium complex, a luxury building across the Hudson River from New York City.
The 74-unit building—which will feature hotel-like amenities, including concierge services, a lobby lounge with a fireplace, gyms and yoga rooms, gathering areas and catering kitchen—is the first of a five-building, 660-unit master-planned community in Weehawken called the Avenue Collection. Condos at the first building range in price from $1.1 million to $2 million. Construction of a second tower with 103 luxury condo units is under way.
The nation’s second-largest home builder by revenue may be better known for $300,000 single-family homes. But in 2011, the company branched out into the rental market and has since increased its investments.
Stuart Miller sounds like a home builder who doesn’t expect first-time and entry-level buyers to surge back into the housing market any time soon. In fact, he is considering expanding into building homes for rent if first timers remain largely unable to buy.
Mr. Miller, chief executive of Lennar LEN +0.94% Corp., one of the largest U.S. home builders, told investors in a quarterly conference call on Thursday that he doesn’t anticipate mortgage-qualification standards easing quickly enough to bring first timers off the sidelines anytime soon.
“We think it’s going to be a slow, at-the-margin adjustment that’s going to take place over time,” Mr. Miller said on Lennar’s call to discuss its results for its fiscal second quarter ended May 31. “On the negative side, it means it’s going to be really difficult to really liberate the first-time buyer and get them back into the market.”
Lennar (NYSE:LEN) has opened bullishly above the pivot of $34.50 today and has reached the first level of resistance at $35.16. Analysts will be watching for a cross of the next upside pivot targets of $35.85 and $37.20.
Lennar share prices have moved between a 52-week high of $44.40 and a 52-week low of $30.90 and are now trading 17% above that low price at $36.05 per share. In the last five trading sessions, the 50-day moving average (MA) has fallen 0.5% while the 200-day MA has slid 0.3%.
Lennar (NYSE:LEN) has potential upside of 18.8% based on a current price of $36.05 and analysts’ consensus price target of $42.81. The stock should find resistance at its 200-day moving average (MA) of $38.30, as well as support at its 50-day MA of $33.64.
The nation’s home builders continue to feel much better about their industry, but the dramatic gains seen through the summer and fall appear to be moderating.
An industry index measuring home builder sentiment in the single-family market rose two points in December, while November’s five-point monthly gain was revised lower by one point.
The National Association of Home Builder’s/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index now stands at 47; 50 is the line between positive and negative sentiment. The index stood at 21 in December of 2011.
“Builders across the country are reporting some of the best sales conditions they’ve seen in more than five years, with more serious buyers coming forward and a shrinking number of vacant and foreclosed properties on the market,” observed NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg in Tuesday’s release. “However, one thing that is still holding back potential home sales is the difficulty that many families are encountering in getting qualified for a mortgage due to today’s overly stringent lending standards.”
The recovery in the housing market continues to pick up steam, as home prices posted the biggest percentage gain in more than two years in the latest reading of the closely followed S&P/Case-Shiller index.
The index showed prices up 4.3% in October compared to a year earlier. That’s the best improvement since May 2010. But that earlier increase was due to a temporary spike caused by a homebuyers’ tax credit of up to $8,000 on homes purchased in late 2009 and early 2010.
This latest rise comes as the housing market has shown numerous other signs of recovery in recent months. A combination of near record-low mortgage rates, lower unemployment and a drop in foreclosures to a five-year low means there are more buyers interested in purchasing fewer available homes. That in turn has lifted prices.
October marked the fifth straight month that the index has been up on a year-over-year basis.
The long-battered housing market is finally starting to get back on its feet. But some experts believe it could soon become another housing boom.
Signs of recovery have been evident in the recent pick ups in home prices, home sales and construction. Foreclosures are also down and the Federal Reserve has acted to push mortgage rates near record lows.
But while many economists believe this emerging housing recovery will produce only slow and modest improvement in home prices, construction and jobs, others believe the rebound will be much stronger.
Barclays Capital put out a report recently forecasting that home prices, which fell by more than a third after the housing bubble burst in 2007, could be back to peak levels as soon as 2015.
Lennar CEO Stuart Miller pronounced the housing market stabilized and recovery “well underway” in its earnings report Monday. That is most certainly true for Lennar, which logged its 10th profitable quarter in a row. Sales were strong and the company has made some money from its financing division, more than making up for some losses in its Rialto unit, a distressed property division that Lennar launched during the downturn. The division helped bolster finances then, but provided a bit of a drag in this quarter.
As demand for new homes increases in Las Vegas, home- builders are scrambling to find finished residential lots suitable for development.
When the housing market collapsed in 2007 and 2008, builders started selling off land holdings to investors or letting it go back to the bank. Now they’re back in the market and supply has tightened, said Dennis Smith, president of Home Builders Research.
He reported about 13,500 finished lots available to start new-home construction today, compared with 19,000 lots at the beginning of the year.
“There’s a lot fewer than I anticipated, relative to January,” Smith said Wednesday. “Builders don’t want to face any more risk than they have to, and they’re much more conservative than they were four or five years ago.”