5 Great Things Happening in the Construction Economy

by Chicago Agent

The construction sector continued its steady progress in April with increases in spending.

Everything was sunny and fine for the U.S. construction industry in April, which continued its 2012 gains with strong showings for the month in the Census Bureau’s latest report.

Altogether, construction spending rose 0.3 percent from March to April to an $820.7 billion annual rate, which is 6.8 percent above April 2011’s estimate of $768.2 billion. Here are four other great details from the Census Bureau’s report that highlight construction’s impressive progress:

  1. For the first four months of 2012, spending has amounted to $238.5 billion, or 7.3 percent above the same period in 2011.
  2. Private construction spending, at $549.7 billion, is 1.2 percent above March.
  3. Residential spending, in particular, was strong, rising 2.8 percent from March to a seasonally adjusted anual rate of $256.1 billion.
  4. Even public construction, which has declined a bit the last couple months, showed improvements; high construction was up 0.4 percent to $77.3 billion.

Construction has been on a roll in 2012. Housing starts were up nearly 30 percent in April from the year before, and builder confidence responded accordingly, reaching its highest point since 2007. Brian Brunhofer, the president of Deerfield-based Meritus Homes, said he has seen a definite uptick in activity in the first quarter of this year.

“For myself, and what I’ve been hearing from builders as well as Realtors, is the first quarter of this year there’s been a higher level of activity and interest,” Brunhofer said.

The cause is a greater level of consumer confidence. After years of a down market, buyers and sellers alike are sensing stability in the marketplace, and that, coupled with record-low interest rates and affordability, is stimulating activity.

“People are in the situation where now is a good time,” Brunhofer said. “They’re tired of waiting and ready to move on.”

Brunhofer even added that some builders, he included, are taking tepid steps back into speculative building, a market that builders have long avoided. Though he said Meritus is only approaching select areas with that in mind (he mentioned Park Ridge, Naperville and Inverness), it’s still a clear sign of an improving economy.

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