Good news to report this morning. The California Homebuilding Foundation - an affiliate of the California Building Industry Association in Sacramento - has acquired the assets of the Construction Industry Research Board from BIASC and will continue collecting and disseminating its crucial data on residential and commercial construction.
In yet another sign that the region’s homebuilding market is continuing to improve, the New Home Company hosted a tour of its upscale Lambert Ranch project in the rolling hills of northern Irvine on Monday to more than 225 BIASC members.
Even more importantly, company officials said more than 3,000 people toured the models over the weekend during its official grand opening.
The company is building 169 homes in three distinct types ranging from 2,730 to 4,876 square feet. The homes incorporate two of the hottest trends in Southern California homebuilding – multigenerational housing opportunities and floor plans that carefully integrate indoor and outdoor living spaces. Options range from dual master suites to a floor plan with separate entrances to the ultimate concept – a two-home family compound.
At the event, sponsored by BIASC’s Orange County Chapter, builders from throughout the region toured the model homes and carefully inspected designs, amenities and materials.
The New Home Company was founded by former executives from John Laing Homes and the Irvine Company – Larry Webb, Joseph Davis, Tom Redwitz and Wayne Stelmar – and is developing communities in Orange County and Northern California.
UPDATE: Zillow this week issued a forecast that the majority of markets across the nation, including L.A., would hit bottom by the end of this year or beginning of next. Here's the money quote:
Low home values paired with extraordinarily low mortgage rates should serve as a signal to consumers that now is a good time to buy. As more home buyers get off the fence, home sales, both existing and new, will continue increasing and help stabilize home prices in the long run.
There's been a lot of good news on the housing front this week. Economist Mark Zandy declared that "the crash is over." And Dr. Doom himself, economist Christopher Thornberg, said "the recovery is here."
And then in today's Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd), comes this headline: Stunned Home Buyers Find the Bidding Wars Are Back. And as reporter Nick Timiraos reported, it's a simple matter of supply and demand.
From California to Florida, many buyers are increasingly competing for the same house. Unlike the bidding wars that typified the go-go years and largely reflected surging sales, today's are a result of supply shortages.
The article also notes that the declining inventory of older homes is spurring sales of new homes. New home sales are up 16% so far this year, compared with a year ago, while inventories of new homes fell in March to their lowest level since record keeping began in 1963.
Earlier in the week, several public homebuilders reported that sales were up during the first quarter.
All in all, it's been a pretty good week.
USC's annual Casden Multifamily Forecast is out today and holds grim news for Southland renters: be prepared to pay a lot more for your apartment during the coming year.
Alejandro Lazo reports in the LA Times Money & Co. blog today that rents in Los Angeles County are expected to soar by 7.9 percent over the next year, and rents are climbing throughout the rest of the region as well.
Lazo writes that the forecast, by the university’s Lusk Center for Real Estate, showed rents last year rose in 39 of the submarkets the report tracks in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino.
That across-the-board increase is a change from 2010 when 26 markets showed flat or increasing rents and a big turnaround from 2009 when only three submarkets saw rents rising. Rents are expected to rise throughout the region over the next two years.
During the past year, rents jumped by 6.2 percent in LA County, by 3.4 percent in the Inland Empire and by 3.2 percent in Orange County.
Today's report builds on the Trulia.com survey last month that showed it was now cheaper to buy than to rent in 98 of the nation's top 100 metro areas.
In a week when SCAG unanimously approved a regionwide growth plan that envisions most new jobs and housing created during the next 20 years will be in high-density areas served by mass transit, it's appropriate that we link to a blog post that points out what most folks in development already know: despite the firm belief of urban planners that everyone wants to live in high-density neighborhoods, the facts stubbornly say otherwise.
In a piece in the influential online pub CityWatch, Ed Braddy dissects survey data compiled by the National Association of Realtors last year on housing preferences. The findings reflect the results of studies done in Southern California.
In the internal data of the 2011 Community Preference Survey commissioned by the National Association of Realtors, 52 percent of respondents said, if given a choice, they would prefer to live in traditional suburbs, small towns or the rural countryside. Another 28 percent chose a suburban setting that allowed for some mixed uses. Only 8 percent of the respondents favored a central city environment.
As for vibrant urbanism, only 7 percent were “very interested” in living in a place “at the center of it all.” Most people wanted to live “away from it all." An astonishing 87 percent said “privacy from neighbors” was important to them in deciding where to live.
When presented with a range of housing choices, 80 percent preferred the “single-family detached house.” Only 8 percent chose an apartment or condominium. Furthermore, 61 percent preferred a place where “houses are built far apart on larger lots and you have to drive to get to schools, stores, and restaurants” over 37 percent who wanted a place where “houses are built close together on small lots and it is easy to walk to schools, stores and restaurants.”
So -- absent the loaded terms and buzzwords that are central to Smart Growth -- a large majority of randomly selected people from across the country showed a strong preference for the land use pattern derisively referred to as “sprawl.”
Ironically, based on one loaded question in the survey, Braddy notes that the Realtors' press release said the poll showed most people liked "smart growth." We think some people want to live in high-density neighborhoods and housing opportunities there should be encouraged. But we also think a lot more people will ultimately want to live in a home in the suburbs, and that kind of housing should be encouraged as well.