VIDEO: Dodge Reports US Construction Starts Fell in First Half of 2018

By on September 11, 2018

From For Construction Pros:  Dodge Data is reporting that analysis of the first half of this year shows a mixed bag for U.S. commercial and multifamily housing starts. The volume of 101.4 billion was 1% less than the identical time frame in 2017 but 2% greater than the period in 2016. Multifamily starts kept the volume loss to a minimum by balancing  a nearly equal downturn in commercial starts. Dodge Chief Economist Robert Murray says the multifamily market was resileint after the 2017 downturn, which has led banks to ease up on their lending practices.

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal in recent editions has questioned the housing market mobility as Dodge Data reported a 9% slump in July starts. It claims an analysis shows investment declining in four of the past five quarters. Price Waterhouse Cooper’s economists say that while the month of June decline appears to be an anomaly, July downward results in the market appears to be a trend — something not many economists have sided with.

The National Association of Home Builders Wells Fargo Housing Affordability Index shows that rising home prices and interest rates have pushed the category into a 10-year low over the first half of 2018. NAHB says in all 57.1% of homes sold between April and June were affordable compared with 61.6% sold in the first quarter of the year. The national medium home price has surged from $252,000 in the first quarter to $265,000 in the second quarter — the highest ever — while average mortgage rates rose by 30 basis points at 4.67%. None the less, says NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz, rising demand will continue to fuel the industry in the remainder of 2018.

It’s now been 22 months of consecutive cost increases for construction, according to IHS Market and Procurement Executives Group. Although nine points lower than July, August came in at 58.9 on the index, which simply means costs continued to rise, though at a slower pace. Materials and equipment notched prices slightly lower at 60.7, an index loss of 8.8 points. The construction cost indexes were lower in 10 of 12 categories in August. Trade uncertainty and supply chain disruptions are the most concern.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has begun a national campaign to pressure President Trump and the Congress to prioritize rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. Mission Not Accomplished is the theme of the campaign, which points out there are 1.3 million Americans in the equipment building industry eager to get the infrastructure effort underway. A TV ad along with print, digital and social media ads are running in select markets as well as Washington D.C. AEM President Dennis Slater says the effort is to get the politicians to follow through on earlier promises to rebuild the nation.

Federal officials including National Intelligence Director Dan Coats recently visited the St. Louis site of their newest Geospatial facility now under construction. Located north of the city, thus far 97 acres has been cleared of 137 buildings to make way for construction of the $1.7 billion federal complex. There’s not much detail about what the facility is designed for except the fact were talking about the nation’s key spy agency.

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