Category Archives: economy

U.S. new single-family home sales in December down -10.4%. Sales for 2016 are up +12.2%

Washington, DC – January 26, 2017 – Sales of new single-family houses in December 2016 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 536,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 10.4 percent (±12.2%) below the revised November rate of 598,000 and is 0.4 percent (±11.7%) below the December 2015 estimate of 538,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in December 2016 was $322,500; the average sales price was $384,000. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 259,000. This represents a supply of 5.8 months at the current sales rate.

An estimated 563,000 new homes were sold in 2016. This is 12.2 percent (±3.5%) above the 2015 figure of 501,000.

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U.S. building permits for new homes end 2016 up +0.4%, with housing starts up +4.9%

Washington, DC – January 19, 2017 – The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly announced the following new residential construction statistics for December 2016:

BUILDING PERMITS – Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,210,000. This is 0.2 percent (±1.8%) below the revised November rate of 1,212,000, but is 0.7 percent (±1.6%) above the December 2015 estimate of 1,201,000. Single-family authorizations in December were at a rate of 817,000; this is 4.7 percent (±1.7%) above the revised November figure of 780,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 355,000 in December. An estimated 1,186,900 housing units were authorized by building permits in 2016. This is 0.4 percent (±0.8%) above the 2015 figure of 1,182,600.

HOUSING STARTS – Privately-owned housing starts in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,226,000. This is 11.3 percent (±10.4%) above the revised November rate of 1,102,000 and is 5.7 percent (±12.0%) above the December 2015 rate of 1,160,000. Single-family housing starts in December were at a rate of 795,000; this is 4.0 percent (±9.2%) below the revised November figure of 828,000. The December rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 417,000. An estimated 1,166,400 housing units were started in 2016. This is 4.9 percent (±2.5%) above the 2015 figure of 1,111,800.

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U.S. Architecture Billings Index ends 2016 on a positive note

Washington, DC – January 18, 2017 – The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) concluded the year in positive terrain, with the December reading capping off three straight months of growth in design billings. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the December ABI score was 55.9, up sharply from 50.6 in the previous month. This score reflects the largest increase in design services in 2016 (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 57.2, down from a reading of 59.5 the previous month.

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NAHB Forecasts Housing Will Continue Gradual Climb to Higher Ground in 2017

Orlando, FL – January 10, 2017 – Fueled by a growing economy, solid employment gains and rising household formations, single-family production will continue on a gradual, upward trajectory in 2017, according to economists speaking at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla., today.

“While positive developments on the demand side will support solid growth in the single-family housing sector in 2017, builders in many markets continue to face supply-side constraints led by the three ‘Ls’ – lots, labor and lending,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

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Canada housing starts decline slightly in December

Ottawa, ON – January 10, 2017 – The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 198, 053 units in December compared to 200,105 in November, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

“December saw multi-unit construction slow for the third consecutive month in Canada, leading housing starts to trend down,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC Chief Economist. “However, 2016 still counted more home starts than 2015. Increased demand for single-detached homes more than offset the decline we’re seeing in multi-unit construction – a decline that’s in response to efforts to manage current inventories.”

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The Long-Term Evolution of House Prices: An International Perspective (speech by Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Lawrence Schembri)

Kingston, ON – August 25, 2015 – Thank you for the invitation to speak here today. Every August since 1961, when John Diefenbaker was prime minister and you could buy a house for $15,000, business and government economists have gathered here in Kingston to discuss issues of the day. CABE has carried on this tradition of convincing economists to attend a conference while everyone else is on vacation. The promise of a good chart is probably all the convincing most of us need. I’ve got plenty of those for you today.

I want to talk to you about the evolution of house prices and the underlying determinants of their long-term movements. As you know, developments in the housing sector and the related mortgage market are important, for both the Canadian economy and its financial system. My presentation, then, is part of our ongoing effort at the Bank to promote an informed discussion of housing and house prices.

In our quarterly Monetary Policy Report and our biannual Financial System Review we usually take a “here and now” perspectiveBut today I want to provide more context by stepping back and looking at house prices in two dimensions:

  • across time, over the past 40 years; and
  • across countries—in particular, across a group of countries that share economic circumstances and policy frameworks similar to Canada’s.

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Modern Slavery: The Dark Side of Construction

London – July 21, 2015 – Today, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has launched a report which shines a light on the prevalence of human rights abuses in construction – in almost every corner of the globe.

With an estimated 36 million enslaved people globally and modern slavery reported in 167 countries, the report, entitled: Modern Slavery: The Dark Side of Construction outlines the many forms of slavery and bonded labour that exist worldwide, and calls for a greater recognition of migrant workers. The report also seeks to highlight the plight made by millions of construction workers across the globe.

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CMHC President explains difference between CMHC’s model & Fannie & Freddie

Whistler, BC – April 4, 2014 – Thank you Deep [Shergill] and good morning everyone. Thank you for the warm welcome and for the opportunity to say a few words this morning.

I’ve had some great discussions with Deep and Kevin Lee, who have filled me in on the CHBA’s close relationship with CMHC over the years. I’m looking forward to building on that relationship with your new President, Bard Golightly.

I’d like to spend a few minutes this morning talking about Canada’s housing finance system, which is so critical to the health of your industry. In particular I want to address the question: Why CMHC? Does Canada really need a federal Crown corporation to be so intrinsically involved in the housing finance system?

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