Positive reports continue to emerge from the housing market — an enouraging sign for the lighting industry as we enter 2014.
According to the National Assn. of Home Builders (NAHB) /First American Leading Markets Index (LMI) , markets in 54 out of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity. The index’s nationwide score of .86 indicates that — based on current permits, prices and employment data — the market is running at 86 percent of normal economic and housing activity.
Baton Rouge, LA, tops the list of major metro areas on the LMI, with a score of 1.42 — or 42 percent better than its last normal market level. Other cities at the top of the list include Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Austin and Houston, TX, as well as Pittsburgh — all of whose LMI scores indicate that their market activity now exceeds previous norms.
Also, sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 25.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 444,000 units in October, according to recent data released  by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.
“The October sales numbers show that there is clearly a demand for new housing and the recovery remains on track,” said Rick Judson, NAHB Chairman and a homebuilder from Charlotte, NC. “However, the recovery continues to be slowed by political uncertainty in Washington and ongoing constraints builders face with regard to tight credit conditions for consumers and the availability of labor, lots and materials.”
All four U.S. regions posted double-digit sales gains in October. Sales rose 19.2 percent in the Northeast, 34 percent in the Midwest, 28.2 percent in the South and 15.2 percent in the West.
Home prices also remain a bright spot in the recovery’s future, having made a great deal of headway during 2013 by increasing more than 12 percent year-over-year, according to the National Assn. of Realtors.
“This has had the trickle-down effect of reducing the number of distressed properties on the market,” says Denise Dersin, Editor-in-Chief of Professional Builder magazine. “Fewer homeowners are underwater and are able to sell their homes for closer to what they owe on them.”