Confidence up, renting down

It looks like 2018 could be a banner year for housing. Not only has homebuilder confidence hit its highest point in 18 years, but renting – and the building of rental units – is on a downturn. Both spell good news for the housing market.

Buoyed builders

According to the National Association of Home Builder’s Housing Market Index, December saw homebuilder confidence reach a 74 – its highest point since July 1999.

The jump is due to “an improved regulatory environment,” according to the NAHB.

The HMI also showed home buyer traffic up eight points, indicating a rise in purchase interest overall.

“With low employment rates, favorable demographics and a tight supply of existing home inventory, we can expect continued upward movement of the single-family sector next year,” the NAHB reported.

Renting takes a hit

If the America’s Rental Housing report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies is any indication, there’s more good news on the horizon for housing, too. The report shows starts on multifamily units down 9 percent since October, while prices on existing units continue to rise.

Rental assistance is also on the decline. According to the report, just 25 percent of very-low-income households receive rental assistance – down from 28 percent in 2001.

According to Christopher Herbert, managing director for the Joint Center for Housing Studies, growth in renters is dipping, too.

“This year’s report paints a complicated picture of the rental market,” Herbert said. “We’re finally seeing the record growth in renters slow down, but while the market has responded to rental housing needs for higher-income households, there are alarming trends that suggest a growing inability to supply housing that is affordable for middle- and working-class renters, let alone those with very low incomes.”

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