What's keeping home builders up at night?

by MPA24 Mar 2015
Homebuilding continues to fall behind pre-recession levels, even as the economy shows gains and buyer demand is high. So why the drag?

According to a recent National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey, it's lack of labor. Over two-thirds of the builders responding listed the availability of labor as their greatest concern for 2015. Building materials prices followed closely with 67% listing it as an expected problem for this year, and lot availability tops out with 57%.

Compared that to 2011, only 13% of respondents listed labor availability as a concern and 21% were concerned with acquiring lots.

When it comes to labor concerns, most builders say they are most concerned about the availability of rough and finish carpenters, framers, and masons. More than 60% of the builders surveyed reported some or serious shortages of carpenters, which is similar to the shortages felt at the peak of the market in 2005, according to BUILDEROnline.com.

"The uptick in overall employment has put additional pressure on finding qualified construction workers," David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, wrote to BUILDER. "Scarcities and rising wages have been worse in the energy production regions of the country. … Wages will have to rise to bring more of the experienced workers back from where they went during the housing collapse."

Builders continue to cope with lot shortages, which began surfacing as a problem in 2012. By mid-2014, about three in five builders reported experiencing some or serious shortages in lots.
 

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