News from housing's ground zero.

By BUILDER Magazine Staff

China Bound

The NAHB's World Focus on China Housing conference will be held November 7­9 in Shanghai. The conference is attracting major participation from several countries including the United States, according to conference chairman Joe Honick. Panels will include participation from American and Chinese senior technical, environmental, and policy authorities together with exhibits in the American Pavilion.

The NAHB/USA building technology pavilion at the Building Shanghai 2001 exhibition has 25 companies as registered participants already.

For more information or to register, contact Katalin Vaughan at

Sales Up

The U.S. Census Bureau reported an increase in new-home sales of 1.7 percent in June. The NAHB attributes the housing market's strength to low mortgage interest rates and unsettled conditions in the stock market.

But another just-realized factor fueling housing demand is stronger than expected numbers of households. The 2000 Census discovered household formations were about 1.35 million annually between 1990 and 2000, much higher than the 1.15 million originally projected. The NAHB does predict that housing demand will decline modestly in the third and fourth quarters of 2001, before the market strengthens in 2002.

Regionally, June new-home sales increased 7.3 percent in the Northeast to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 59,000; in the South increased 7.1 percent to 466,000. In the West, new-home sales declined by 1.6 percent to 241,000. In the Midwest, which has borne the brunt of the contraction in the U.S. manufacturing sector, sales dropped 9.3 percent to 156,000 in June.

The number of new homes for sale stood at 292,000, and the months' supply of new homes for sale was unchanged at 3.9.

RMI Debuts

In July, the NAHB unveiled its Remodeling Market Index (RMI), a new economic index produced by the NAHB Economics Group and Public Affairs that measures activity in the vast $150 billion remodeling market.

In its first outing, the RMI rated the remodeling market as still holding steady with a 55 rating but starting to show signs of slowing due to the sagging economy and the shrinking job market. Future expectations for remodeling as rated by remodelers also remained virtually flat.

The future expectations index is based on questions that ask for the volume of "calls for bids," the amount of work committed for the next three months, the backlog of remodeling jobs, and the current number of proposals for future work. An index with a number over 50 indicates that more remodelers view market conditions as favorable than not favorable.

Between the first and second quarter of this year, the ratings for current market conditions declined in all regions of the country except the Midwest, where the rating increased from 53.3 to 55.6. The largest drop occurred in the Northeast, where the rating fell from 63.2 to 58.1.

Ratings for future remodeling market expectations declined during the first half of the year by more than four points in the Northeast, from 66.4 to 62.0, and by nearly five points in the West, from 59.2 to 54.4. Ratings increased from 54.2 to 58.1 in the Midwest and from 55.4 to 56.7 in the South during this same period.