Stronger home sales should follow a tepid spring
NEW YORK – April 23, 2014 – Despite weak underlying consumer momentum this spring, U.S. housing should improve later in 2014 due to faster economic growth, according to Fitch Ratings in the latest edition of the "Chalk Line."
"Comparisons have been a challenge so far this year, with most housing metrics falling short of expectations from a year ago," said Robert Curran, managing director and lead homebuilding analyst for Fitch Ratings. "Though the severe winter throughout much of North America has restrained some housing activity, buyer sensitivity to home prices and finance rates and the slowing of job growth at year-end is resulting in diminished consumer momentum."
That said, Fitch expects stable ratings for most issuers within the homebuilding sector in 2014, reflecting a continued, moderate cyclical improvement in overall construction activity as the year progresses. There is even potential for a few upgrades among some homebuilders.
Housing should improve in 2014 due to faster economic growth and some acceleration in job growth, despite somewhat higher interest rates, as well as more measured home price inflation.
However, Fitch is tapering its year-end forecast to reflect a subpar spring selling season. Single-family starts are now projected to improve 15 percent to 710,000 as multifamily volume grows about 9 percent to 335,000.
Overall, Fitch predicts that total starts this year should top one million. Fitch projects new home sales will increase about 16 percent to 500,000 and existing home sales to remain flat at 5.10 million. This is largely due to fewer distressed homes for sale. New home price inflation should moderate in 2014, at least partially because of higher interest rates. Average and median new home prices should rise about 3.5 percent in 2014.
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