Warning signals about the speed and steepness of today's new-home downturn ran under the radar as “fundamental” leading indicators like job creation, migration and mobility, and interest rates remained favorable even as the bottom was dropping out. For recovery, big builders might look to less traditional metrics and markets, not just permits, to get business moving again. For instance, markets where educational attainment is higher might be fruitful home building markets—as Seattle and the Northwest prove to be, even today—as educational attainment becomes an ever more important benchmark of present and future household spending and income.


THE UNITED STATES' SMARTEST MARKETS Top 25 cities with more than 250,000 population, ranked by percentage of bachelor's degrees among residents 25 and older