“All roads lead down,” Zandi said. “Some more steeply than others.”
Countering Zandi’s analysis, Duobinis said that job growth, while not yet uniform across the country, will bring net population migration to areas with a strong employment base and will strengthen the housing market in those regions.
“Job growth is connected to housing,” Duobinis said. “When growth gets stronger, you can throw your 33-year-old son out of the house because he can now get his own place. Businesses are hiring again, and it’s not just temporary employees. They are beginning to hire employees on a permanent basis.”
He said 21 states experienced positive job growth from February 2002 to February 2003, and that trend has continued.
Employment is still spotty in the industrial states and the South but strong in the Mountain States and Florida as well as on the rise in the Southeast, California and parts of the Northeast and upper Midwest, he added.
Many of these regions have experienced net in-migration, Duobinis said, and many have also seen an increase in their single-family housing starts.
David Seiders, NAHB’s chief economist and moderator of the conference, argued that house prices are not likely to fall at a stage of the economic cycle where job and income growth are accelerating in most parts of the country and in a housing market with slim inventories almost everywhere.
“The house price bubble issue actually is receding, despite some firming up of the interest rate structure,” Seiders said.
Photos by Morris Semiatin
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