What it will take to reduce oversupply of new homes
That number has been whittled down to 1.5 million units of oversupply as of June 2011.
How long will it take to eviscerate that oversupply?
"If we continue at our current annualized pace of new-home sales, it would take until 2015 to get back to an equilibrium level of housing supply using this measure," Housing Intelligence concluded.
"There is always an ebb and flow of activity," Smoke said. "There's ebb and flow in household formation and homeownership rates. All factors have gone through their own cycles. However, these numbers are probably a good representation of why new construction hasn't really shown any signs of life over the last couple of years."
Counteracting such substantial historical trends is difficult, Smoke said, "and with 1.5 million units of excess new homes today, it paints a challenging picture for the industry over the medium term."
These numbers are an aggregate, Smoke said, trying to put a more positive spin on the report. "Clearly, you have areas that are declining in population, housing and jobs. Then you have a migration of people from one area of the country to another. Where there is growth and new households, there is no excess of supply."
Here's one other interesting divination: In almost all economic recoveries, housing -- both new construction and new-home sales -- has been ahead of the curve. Permits, new-home sales and construction starts all tend to move in a positive direction several months before the economy begins its delineated recovery.
This time, things will be different, and an improving economy is going to have to pull housing forward.
You don't have to be able to read the smoke signals to understand that the new-home business was once the locomotive of economic recovery -- now it is the caboose.
Author's note: Special to Inman News readers, you can purchase the "Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy and Cultural Crisis" e-book for $5.99 (a 25 percent discount off the list price) by entering discount code ZX59A at the following website: Smashwords.com/books/view/76878.
Steve Bergsman is a freelance writer in Arizona and author of several books. His latest book, "Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy and Cultural Crisis," is now available for sale on Amazon.com.
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Daily market update: Nov. 30, 2015