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Market Archive

Market

New autos rev up U.S. automakers' sales

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WASHINGTON (6/4/14)--Auto sales ramped up in May to 16.8 million units sold--an 800,000-unit increase from April and the fastest pace since 2007--according to numbers released by AutoData Tuesday.

Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan all enjoyed year-over-year sales growth near 20% year-over-year, and even an embattled GM, which has been ravaged by a spate of recent recalls, saw sales climb 12% annually.

Hyundai, Honda and Ford experienced single digit gains.

Sales for the month may have received a boost from the benefit of a fifth weekend in May, in addition to the sales events that always mark Memorial Day to attract consumers.

Moody's analysts said that warmer spring weather and the success of several new vehicle models fueled sales as well (Economy.com June 3).

Several manufacturers did not fare as well in May, however, including Volkswagen and Volvo, which each saw year-over-year sales diminish.

Even more than cars, light-truck sales experienced the strongest gains and imports in general made up 22% of sales in May.  

"The strong pace of sales is not sustainable, but reflects, to a large extent, the release of pent-up demand," said Sophia Koropeckyj, Moody's analyst. "Moody's analytics expects vehicle sales to continue their upward path, however. In 2015, sales are expected to average 17 million units."

Lot shortage could inflate homebuilding costs

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WASHINGTON (6/4/14)--Smaller homebuilders are finding fewer and fewer parcels on which to erect new houses, possibly leading to higher new home prices for those in the market, a survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has found.

According to the survey, 59% of builders reported a "low" or "very low" supply of developed lots in their markets. A developed lot allows builders to begin construction immediately.

That short supply could drive up the cost to build and, in turn, buy new homes.

"Builders price homes based on what they are going to have to pay for all the ingredients," David Crowe, NAHB chief economist, told MarketWatch (June 3). "If they are starting to pay more for lots, they are going to pass that on right away."

Further, builders said that prices for the two most desirable lots, called "A" and "B" lots, have risen higher than levels seen a year ago.

Crowe attributes the shortage to the fact that many developers didn't keep faith that demand for new homes would return after the recession, so they have failed to develop lots over the past several years. And those who did want to develop had difficulty finding financing.

But while the survey tracked mostly smaller homebuilders, the 10 largest players in the industry, which make up about a quarter of all home construction in the United States, could be faring better.

For example, Toll Brothers reported owning or controlling more than 50,000 home sites at the end of April, an 11.5% jump from last year.

Meanwhile, of the 387 respondents to the NAHB survey, most build less than 25 homes per year. And nearly 90% of them said that national builders buying lots have a "significantly" or "somewhat" negative impact on price or the availability of lots, according to MarketWatch.