Builders surveyed in January 2015 ranked the most significant problems expected to face the industry in 2015. Topping the list was the Cost/Availability of Labor, an issue which has increased in importance the past two years. In 2013, 53% of builders rated Labor as a significant problem, followed by 61% in 2014 and 68% in 2015. This trend suggests an improving housing market, with an expected skilled labor shortage constraining that recovery.
Building Material Prices ranked second, with 66% of builders of the opinion that it is expected to be a significant problem in 2015. In 2013, 68% of builders rated Building Materials as a significant problem, but that share decreased to 58% in 2014. Stable framing lumber and OSB prices in 2014 reflected a somewhat disappointing year for housing production. Stronger demand in 2015, coupled with low mortgage rates and improving credit conditions, suggest renewed pressure for higher building material prices.
The Regulation of Banking/financial institutions is expected to remain a significant problem for builders in 2015. In 2013, bank regulation was rated a significant problem by 63% of responding builders, falling slightly to 62% of builders in 2014 and then 61% of builders in 2015.
The Cost/Availability of Developed Lots is expected to be increasingly significant. In 2013, the Cost/Availability of Lots was rated significant by 46% of responding builders. That share increased to 55% in 2014 and again to 57% for 2015. Both the Availability of Labor and Lots highlight the expected constraints of a recovering housing market.
It is harder to explain the builder ratings for Concern about the Employment/economic situation. Rated a significant problem by 60% of reporting builders in 2013, the issue dropped in significance to 51% in 2014, only to increase to 54% for 2015. Employment increased in significance as an issue despite the economy adding three-quarters of a million new jobs over the three month period prior to the survey.