Midwest Home Building Outlook Remains Strong

ROSEMONT, ILL. Economic analysts at the recent Midwest Builders Show here said the housing industry is benefiting from an economy that continues to gain traction. Rick Kaglic, senior business economist in the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said the economy is continuing to pick up and that job creation will gain ground as well. In general, he said, prices remain in check

ROSEMONT, ILL. — Economic analysts at the recent Midwest Builders Show here said the housing industry is benefiting from an economy that continues to gain traction. Rick Kaglic, senior business economist in the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said the economy is continuing to pick up and that job creation will gain ground as well. In general, he said, prices remain in check and investment spending is expected to increase in the near term.

Kaglic’s comments came at the fourth annual Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago Market Forum, which was held during the Midwest Builders Show recently at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. The Midwest Builders Show is in its second year.

“Some economists and analysts maintain that the housing industry continues to fill housing demand that was not met in the 1990s and that’s why we’re still seeing such strong interest in new homes in the face of slow or negative job growth,” said Tom Robinson, president of the home builders group and president of Robinson Homes, Roselle, Ill. “Low interest rates, a volatile stock market making real estate a better investment, and now, renewed job growth — whatever the reasons — current activity continues at a strong pace, and we in the industry are working hard to meet the demand.”

Single-family home starts in Illinois between 1998 and 2003 increased 29%, according to statistics provided at the market forum by Chris Huecksteadt of Metrostudy, a real estate market research and consulting company.

“We’re setting records in terms of housing starts,” Huecksteadt said. “That figures compares to 14% nationally.”

Huecksteadt explained that in the eight-state region on which the Midwest Builders Show focuses, housing starts for the 1998-2003 time period are: Iowa, up 18%; Indiana, down 1%; Michigan, down 4%; Missouri, up 10%; Minnesota, up 32%; Ohio, up 7%, and Wisconsin, up 21%.

He also said in the Midwest region for 2003, the number of single-family housing starts in selected cities, in descending order of starts, are: Chicago, 30,874; Minneapolis, 20,309; Detroit, 15,116; Indianapolis, 13,073; St. Louis, 11,870; Columbus, Ohio, 11,535; Cincinnati, 8,551; Cleveland, 7,113; Grand Rapids, Mich., 6,249; and Milwaukee, 3,894.

Metrostudy statistics show that, during the 1998-2003 period, home prices throughout the region increased by 20% to 30% or more. Prices are up in: Illinois, 34%; Indiana, 19%; Iowa, 24%; Ohio, 22%; Michigan, 31%; Minnesota, 58%; Missouri, 32%; and Wisconsin, 32%.

In addition to the Market Forum, the show featured 257 exhibitors, 50 more than last year, occupying 430 booths. Exhibitors included Lee Lumber, Delta Faucets, Poma Marble, National City Mortgage Co., Maytag, Eldorado Stone, and Apex Sauna & Wine Cellars.

In 2005, the home builders group will expand its trade show by hosting a public show in addition to a trades-only event. The public show, called the Midwest Home Expo, is slated for April 29-May 1. The trades-only Midwest Builders Show is scheduled for March 17-18 with education and certification programs on March 15-16.

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