At Builders’ Show, NAHB raises forecast for starts

Las Vegas -- The National Association of Home Builders sees the residential construction industry gaining momentum in a larger economy that includes a few wild cards.

At the International Builders’ Show here in Las Vegas, the Washington, D.C.-based trade association updated its 2013 housing starts forecast to 949,000 starts in 2013, up 21.5% from the prior year. At the end of January, the group had forecast 932,000.   

Single-family starts are anticipated to rise 22% from 535,000 last year to 650,000 in 2013, according to NAHB chief economist David Crowe. They are expected to jump an additional 30% in 2014 to 844,000 units.

On the multi-family side, NAHB is anticipating that starts will increase 22% from 246,000 units last year to 299,000 in 2013, and rise an additional 6% to 317,000 units in 2014.

“Nearly every measure of housing market strength -- sales, starts, prices, permits and builder confidence -- has been trending upward in recent months, and we expect to see gradual but steady growth along these lines in 2013,”  Crowe said.

Among the possible challenges to an increasingly strong recovery are tight mortgage lending conditions, inaccurate appraisals, rising prices of materials and declining inventory of buildable lots, Crowe said.