Homebuilders Polled About 2017 Challenges
Workforce Shortage is Their Chief Concern, Followed by a Lack of Lots
Despite a healthy economy and expanding demand for new houses, the most significant challenge homebuilders will face in 2017 is the cost and availability of labor, according to a poll given by the National Association of Home Builders.
The NAHB customarily includes a set of "special questions" in each of its monthly Housing Market Index surveys, and in December, builders were asked what problems they encountered in 2016, and also what challenges they would likely confront in 2017.
A shortage of qualified labor in 2016 was deemed a problem by 78 percent of the respondents, and 82 percent of the homebuilders queried said this would be their most difficult challenge in the year ahead.
The NAHB said 13 percent of builders rated the lack of labor as a problem in 2011, and that homebuilders' concerns about this issue has steadily increased since then -- to 30 percent in 2012; 53 percent in 2013; 61 percent in 2014; and 71 percent in 2015.
The cost and availability of developed lots was the second most significant issue in last month's poll, as 60 percent said it was a problem last year, and 67 percent said it would continue to be a challenge in 2017.
In 2011, the cost and availability of developed lots was rated significant by 21 percent of builders who responded to the survey. That share was 34 percent in 2012; 46 percent in 2013; 55 percent in 2014; and 58 percent in 2015.
Third on the list was impact, hook-up, inspection and other fees, as 60 percent said it was a problem in 2016, and 61 percent said it would carry over to 2017.
According to the NAHB poll, these were the remaining challenges, in descending order: federal environmental regulations and policies; regulation of banking and financial institutions; local and state environmental regulations and policies; inaccurate appraisals; building material prices; development standards (parking, setbacks, etc.); and health insurance.