State of the Nation’s Housing
Signs of Turnaround Seen
Housing markets are showing signs of reviving, according to “The State of the Nation’s Housing,” a report by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. “While still in the early innings of a housing recovery, rental markets have turned the corner, home sales are strengthening, and a floor is beginning to form under home prices,” says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the center. While gaining ground, the homeowner market still faces a number of challenges, the Harvard report cautions. Growth may remain muted because of the more than 11 million homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. These owners cannot sell without incurring a loss and have no home equity to borrow against to fund major remodels.
80 Metros Listed As Improving
The list of U.S. housing markets showing measurable and sustained improvement includes 80 metropolitan areas, down from the 100 markets shown as improving in May, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index. The list includes 28 new entrants and at least one representative from 31 different states. "The shifting of some markets off the IMI in June underscores the fragile nature of the housing recovery, as well as the fact that many locations that previously made the list had recorded only marginal house price gains, which were easily wiped out by small downward changes," notes NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.
Study Assesses Ability to Vent Pollutants
Cooking exhaust hoods designed for home kitchens vary widely in their ability to capture and vent away the air pollutants generated by the gas burners on cook stoves, according to a study by two Berkeley, Calif.-based Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists. Of seven representative devices they tested, the capture efficiency varied from less than 15 percent to more than 98 percent.
The hoods did better capturing pollutants from the two back burners of the stove than from its front burners. Hoods that achieved airflows recommended by the Wauconda, Ill.-based Home Ventilating Institute’s HV1 standard showed capture efficiencies of about 80 percent or greater for back burners but only 60 percent or greater for the oven and 50 percent or greater for front burners. Open hoods had higher capture efficiency than those with grease screen- and metal-covered bottoms.
Pending Home Sales
Higher Than Previous Year
Pending home sales retrenched in April following three consecutive monthly gains but are notably higher than April 2011, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Realtors. The index declined 5.5 percent to 95.5 from a downwardly revised 101.1 in March but is 14.4 percent above April 2011 when it was 83.5.
Kitchen & Bath
Showroom Traffic Up
Kitchen and bath showroom traffic rose 8 percent in the first quarter of 2012 to 24 consumers visiting the average showroom in March, according to the Hackettstown, N.J.-based National Kitchen and Bath Association’s “Kitchen and Bath Market Report” for the first quarter. Although this remains 13 percent down from a year ago, the first quarter of 2011 was a particularly standout quarter. This quarter’s figure is the second-highest mark during the past two years.
Ballot on LEED 2012 Delayed
The Washington, D.C-based U.S. Green Building Council announced it will delay ballot on LEED 2012 until June 1, 2013, or potentially earlier in 2013 if USGBC members and the market indicate readiness for ballot. Because of this date change, LEED 2012 is being renamed LEED v4.
Average Household Uses Less Energy
The average U.S. household consumed 90 million Btus in 2009, continuing the downward trend in average per-household energy consumption of the last 30 years, according to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Energy Information Administration. Improvements in efficiency for space heating, air conditioning and major appliances have led to decreased consumption per household despite increases in the number of homes, the average size of homes and the use of electronics. As a result, total U.S. energy consumption in homes has remained relatively stable.
Number of NAHB members whose primary business is residential remodeling
Source: National Association of Home Builders
11.1 million homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. –Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University
The national homeownership rate dipped to 66.1 percent in 2011, down 0.7 percentage point from one year earlier and 2.9 percentage points from the 2004 peak. –Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University