I'm flying home from what used to be called the NAHB Show. And I'm flying high, because save for the all-too-heady days of 2005-2007 I've never picked up such a positive vibe. And my perspective is well-informed: I've been to every single show since 1976, which makes for 39 in a row.
The aisles were crowded, almost every booth was jammed (especially those showcasing high-end, high-fashion kitchen and bath products), and nobody I talked to had a discouraging word to say about housing. Not Susan Marvin, president of Marvin Windows, not Hugh Ekberg, president of Kohler's kitchen and bath business, and not Eric Nilsson, vice president of corporate marketing for Certainteed, all of whom talked about the turnaround in their builder customer's outlook. In addition, I attended an economic forecast breakfast along with some 300 builders. When asked to raise their hands if they were expecting a strong spring selling season, about 299 hands went up.
That optimism mirrors the positive housing forecast of most economists, including Hanley Wood's Jonathan Smoke, who at that fore mentioned breakfast called for 1.15 million housing starts this year. Jonathan's usually right but after 40 years in the housing industry I've come to put more stock in what builders and building product manufacturers tell me. And their message was loud and clear: it looks like 2014 will be a very good year for housing.
And isn't it about time.