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Housing Outlook Not Rosy

February 15, 2002

Investment Analyst Predicts Softening Housing, Home Retailing Markets

Inman News Features

Independent investment firm Chicago-based William Blair & Co. is forecasting at least a moderate decline in existing housing turnover beginning early this year.

The direction of interest rates, coupled with a drop last fall in consumer confidence, will be the swing factors influencing the depth and duration of the housing downturn, the company predicted.

Existing housing sales declined from an average 5.3 million-unit pace in the first half of 2001 to a 5.2 million-unit pace in the second half. Holding this level, which William Blair & Co. considers unlikely, would mean that year-over-year sales would move into negative territory in the first half of 2002, the company predicts.

Analyst David Ricci discusses the relationship between housing turnover and home improvement industry sales in a report on housing-related retailing.

"Analysis of past existing home sales and U.S. Census Bureau-reported building materials sales data suggests there is lag of as much as six to nine months between a home purchase and related consumer purchases at home improvement centers," Ricci said. "Due to this lag, we expect home improvement industry sales to continue to strengthen through much of 2002 as the lagged impact of the growth in 2001 housing is played out."

But Ricci said home improvement industry sales could begin to weaken later in 2002 in response to the projected housing decline earlier in the year.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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