April 2012 Overview

Kitchens and Baths

Architects Report Uptick in Interest

Residential architects are seeing increased interest in kitchen design among homeowners, according to the Washington, D.C.-based American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey for the fourth quarter of 2011. “More space is being devoted to—and increasing activities centered in—this part of the home,” says Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, AIA chief economist. Likewise, there is growing interest in kitchen products related to sustainability, in-home technology and accessibility concerns for an aging population.

Bathrooms, in contrast, are not seeing comparable improvements in room size or the number in a home. However, emphasis on bathrooms never declined during the housing downturn, the survey report states. Space devoted to bath areas remained fairly stable between 2009 and 2011 when other areas were declining. Accessibility remains a major emphasis in bath design, as doorless showers continue to be very popular. Energy-efficient lighting and water conservation also remain major goals for products selected for baths. However, comfort is also a priority; radiant-heated floors continue to be a popular feature.

Consumer Sentiment

More Homeowners Want to Hire Contractors

Almost 90 percent of U.S. homeowners surveyed want to remodel this year and growing numbers of want to hire professionals to do the work for them in contrast to a DIY inclination in recent years, according to the Spring 2012 Sunnyvale, Calif.-based RemodelOrMove.com Remodeling Sentiment Report. Almost 70 percent of respondents plan to hire a contractor to do their work, compared to 64 percent in 2010. A full 44 percent of respondents plan to do no work themselves, up from 33 percent in 2009.

Energy Upgrades

BPI Announces New Certifications

Malta, N.Y.-based Building Performance Institute Inc. in June will introduce four new certifications focused on the most common job classifications in the home energy-upgrade industry: energy auditor, retrofit installer, crew leader and quality control inspector. BPI will hold pilot written and field practical exams during the month of June. Registration for the pilot certification exams is at Bpi.org/pilot.


Improving Markets Win Some, Lose Some

The tally of housing markets showing measurable improvement reached 99 in March, a net gain of one compared to February, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index. Thirty-one metros were added and 30 markets slipped from the list, primarily because of incremental softening in house prices. Notable new entrants include Orlando, Fla.; Rochester, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; and Austin and San Antonio, Texas. Meanwhile, Anchorage, Alaska; Iowa City, Iowa; Washington, D.C.; and Jackson, Miss., returned to the list as a result of recent revisions in their employment data.

Kitchen & Bath Industry

Darcy Moves Up at NKBA

Bill Darcy, most recently executive vice president of the Hackettstown, N.J.-based National Kitchen and Bath Association, has been promoted to chief executive officer. Darcy has served in a number of marketing and business development positions during his tenure with the organization.


Multifamily Outlook Optimistic

The Multifamily Production Index, an indicator for the multifamily market compiled by the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders, increased from 47.3 in the third quarter to 48.9 in the fourth quarter of 2011—the highest reading since the fourth quarter of 2005 and a steady improvement in the apartment and condominium housing market for a sixth consecutive quarter.

Pending Home Sales

Upward Sales Trend Continues

Although uneven, pending home sales are on an upward trend since reaching a cyclical low in April 2011 and are well above one year ago, according to the Washington, D.C-based National Association of Realtors. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 2 percent to 97 in January 2012 from a downwardly revised 95.1 in December 2011 and is 8 percent higher than January 2011 when it was 89.8.

New Home Sales

Early Sales Virtually Flat

Sales of newly built, single-family homes declined by less than 1 percent in January from an upwardly revised number in the previous month to hit a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 321,000 units, according to data jointly released by Washington, D.C.-based HUD and the U.S. Commerce Department.


Seniors and Young Adults Will Influence Housing

Aging baby boomers and their echo boomer children will significantly impact trends in the nation’s housing market during the next 20 years. During the next two decades, the aging baby boomer generation will swell the nation’s senior population by 30 million. That demographic shift will likely help increase the supply of housing because people over age 65 typically release much more housing than they absorb. This increased supply could mean additional buying opportunities for echo boomers. That generation will absorb 75 to 80 percent of the available inventory of owner-occupied housing by 2020. The conclusions are contained in a report by the Washington, D.C.-based Bipartisan Policy Center.