4/15/21: EconUpdate by P. Duffy

EconUpdate by P. Duffy

April builder confidence rises another point to 83

What does this mean?  Even with higher lumber costs and supply side challenges, strong buyer demand boosted confidence.

The latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today shows that builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes rose one point to 83 in April. The HMI index gauging current sales conditions increased one point to 88 and the gauge charting traffic of prospective buyers posted a three-point gain to 75. The component measuring sales expectations in the next six months fell two points to 81.



Retail sales rise 9.8 percent in March, up 27.7 percent year-on-year

What does this mean?  A combination of more stimulus, rising vaccination rates and increased consumer confidence boosted spending.

U.S. retail and food services sales for March 2021 were $619.1 billion, an increase of 9.8 percent from the previous month, and 27.7 percent above March 2020.  Total sales for the January 2021 through March 2021 period were up 14.3 percent from the

same period a year ago.



Initial unemployment claims drop 25 percent to lowest level since mid-March 2020

What does this mean?  Although continuing claims were flat, the drop in initial claims is proof of a rebounding economy.

In the week ending April 10, initial unemployment claims were 576,000, a decrease of 193,000, or 25 percent, from the previous week’s revised level, to the lowest level since March 14, 2020. Continuing claims during the week ending April 3 were 3,731,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised level.  The total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs for the week ending March 27 was 16,934,061, a decrease of 1,235,856, or 6.8 percent from the previous week.



Experts say shift to remote work at least part time is here to stay

What does this mean?  Changing expectations in housing amenities and locations should benefit those builders able to provide supply.

An overwhelming majority (95%) of more than 100 economists and real estate experts surveyed by Zillow as part of the Q1 2021 Zillow Home Price Expectations (ZHPE) survey said an increased preference to work remotely at least part-time is a permanent shift. More than two-thirds (69%) of panelists said they expect inventory will begin to grow in the second half of this year or the first half of 2022.