Builder confidence reached a nearly 19-year high at the end of 2017, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. While the first reading of 2018 wasn't quite as high, a positive level of 72 indicates a solid amount of continued optimism. Additionally, the Remodeling Market Index showed strength, coming in at a level of 60 and marking its 19th consecutive quarter in positive territory.
While housing starts dipped slightly in December, the 2017 totals for single-family construction were positive — nearly 9% above the 2016 totals. Multifamily starts, however, were down almost 10% as that market finds a balance between supply and demand. NAHB expects single-family starts to increase nearly 5% in 2018, while multifamily starts will decline slightly.
A recent NAHB survey of builders identified the top concerns for the industry. Building material prices and labor costs/availability were cited by 84% of builders as significant problems they expect to face in 2018. The next most commonly cited challenge was the cost/availability of lots, referenced by 62% of builders. Despite these obstacles, the industry continues to expand, adding 86,400 jobs over the last year as housing demand continues to rise.
–NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz